“That was our commitment when we started this work,” Abed said.
After reaching out to 30,000 households, the group did a study to see how many of those households were now using the rehydration solution and found that only six percent were using it.
The women teaching the solution did not believe in its efficacy, Abed said.
Next, Abed’s organization educated the women on how the solution works and showed them results.
After reaching another 30,000 households, they again checked and learned while the results had improved, only a disappointing 19 percent were using the rehydration formula. They interviewed the households where the solution was not used and learned that the men had prevented it, because of misinformation.
“We decided that our program design was wrong,” Abed said.
Men made the decisions in these households, so the group changed protocol and began educating the men first. They went into the mosques, marketplaces and temples to reach the men.
The results were good.
“That had a tremendous impact in the reduction of childhood mortality,” Abed said.
Next, the organization worked with Unicef to immunize children, achieving an increase from two percent to 70 percent immunization rates. Abed said immunization today is around 95 percent in Bangladesh.
With child mortality reduced, women did not need to have as many children and their life expectancy increased as well. Female children are seen as a financial burden in poor households, but reducing the mortality of children and increasing the life expectancy of mothers has helped prevent early marriages.
In Bangladesh, most marriages are still arranged and early marriage still occurs, Abed said.
On Saturday, The Daily Star, a local English language newspaper reported a 14-year-old boy drowning after he and his girlfriend jumped into the river in a suicide pact. The 14-yearl-old girl was to marry a businessman in a couple of days. Rickshaw drivers were able to rescue her but could not save the boy.