SURVIVAL: A Healthy Start 43:00, 2018 (Ref: AS08727)



Children are most likely to die in their first month of life. Bangladesh has one of the highest child mortality figures in the world. Fifty children a day die drowning. Fifty thousand a year are killed by diarrhoea. Yet a range of cheap and simple interventions could save many of these precious lives. In this documentary produced for the BBC we look at the methods being used to prevent such high infant mortality rates. Liza has recently given birth to her second child after a long and complicated labour. She was rushed to hospital because there were fears for her unborn child’s safety. The longer labour is delayed, the more chance there is of harming the baby.

Her baby boy, Tamim, was finally born. But the delay has had serious consequences – Tamim has been injured after being starved of oxygen during delivery. Asphyxia is one of the most common killers of newborns in Bangladesh. Tamim appeared to be dead, but he surprised everyone by taking his first deep breath twenty minutes after he was born. Liza remained in hospital with her baby for several days, until Tamim was well enough to go home. But oxygen deprivation doesn’t just weaken babies – it can cause brain damage. Liza’s first weeks at home with Tamim weren’t easy. He’s not breast-feeding. Liza knows in her heart that there is a real problem. But she and her husband are drawing on their faith to help them through. Six weeks after the birth, they’ve been referred to a specialist at a government hospital. Tamim hasn’t managed to feed correctly, his back is arching and he’s still having convulsions. The future is uncertain for this young child but he is admitted to hospital where he can receive the very best modern medicine can offer.