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Bangladesh initiated the Maternal Health Voucher Scheme (MHVS) in 2007 to improve maternal and child health practices and bring equity to the mainstream of health systems by reducing financial and institutional barriers.

A pioneering study sheds light on the potential link between Bangladesh’s Maternal Health Voucher Scheme (MHVS) and the country’s routine immunization coverage. The innovative scheme, introduced in 2007, aimed to revolutionize maternal and child health practices while eliminating financial and institutional barriers. The study, conducted in Chattogram and Sylhet divisions between October 2016 and June 2017 provides intriguing insights.

The research, encompassing 1,151 children aged 12–23 months, uncovered a striking trend. Children of mothers enrolled in the MHVS exhibited significantly higher immunization coverage compared to those whose mothers were not part of the scheme. The data revealed that a remarkable 93% of children with MHVS-member mothers were fully immunized, whereas the figure stood at 84% for children of non-member mothers.

While the MHVS primarily focuses on maternal health, its ripple effects on childhood immunization are profound. The scheme, facilitating safe motherhood practices such as antenatal care (ANC), institutional delivery, and postnatal care, inadvertently promotes awareness and utilization of childhood immunization services. This indirect yet potent impact underscores the interconnectedness of maternal and child health outcomes.

Bangladesh boasts commendable childhood immunization coverage, yet certain populations remain underserved. The study advocates leveraging maternal health programs like the MHVS to achieve universal immunization coverage. Strengthening existing initiatives, such as community clinics, and intensifying community engagement can further amplify the scheme’s positive influence on immunization.

This groundbreaking study represents a pivotal step in understanding the multifaceted benefits of maternal health interventions. While focusing on child immunization, it sets the stage for broader exploration into the non-targeted impacts of government health programs. By adopting a holistic approach, Bangladesh can harness the full potential of such initiatives to enhance the health and well-being of its citizens.

The MHVS in Bangladesh emerges not only as a beacon of hope for maternal health but also as a catalyst for improving childhood immunization coverage. This research underscores the symbiotic relationship between maternal and child health outcomes, emphasizing the need for integrated strategies to address healthcare disparities. As Bangladesh charts its path towards health equity, initiatives like the MHVS stand as pillars of progress, paving the way for a healthier future for all.

 

Reference:
Sultana N, Hossain A, Das H, Pallikadavath S, Koeryaman M, Rahman M, et al. Is the maternal health voucher scheme associated with increasing routine immunization coverage? Experience from Bangladesh. Front Public Health [Internet]. 2023;11. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2023.963162 

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  • Type: Research Paper
  • Theme: Extended Programme for Immunisation (EPI)
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  • Country: Bangladesh
  • Location: Bangladesh
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