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We Care: training Family Welfare Assistants in Bangladesh

As partner in the ‘We Care’ project in Bangladesh, our SRHR team has helped develop an interactive training curriculum to equip Family Welfare Assistants with the knowledge, skills and motivation to provide inclusive sexual and reproductive health services for vulnerable populations.

This week we are piloting the new curriculum among 20 Family Welfare Assistants (FWAs) in Khulna, with involvement of the National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT), DGFP, MDF, Niketan, Rutgers expertisecentrum seksualiteit and RedOrange.

Making SRHR more inclusive

Historically, marginalised communities and vulnerable people have been left out of discussions on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). This interactive curriculum hopes to address this. It contains several case studies, role-play scenarios, and other activities focused on the specific SRHR needs of people with disabilities, young people, and indigenous peoples. It also provides approaches to improve SRHR information and service provision to these groups by the FWAs. 

The FWAs find the curriculum “very much unique, interesting and suitable for their job”. They feel that the interactive teaching approach provides them with the opportunity to learn many new skills as well as to learn from each other. Several FWAs already pledged to work harder to reach out to people with disabilities as well as indigenous peoples, whom they until now mostly excluded from their services. 

“I learned that people with disability also have sexual desires and needs just as any other person. We need to be friendly with them and reach out to people with disabilities. So far we have exclude them from our services as we did not know this”.
Kamali Halder, who has been working as an FWA since 2018

The curriculum will be integrated into the basic and refresher training for the FWA, through which thousands of FWAs will be trained.

We’ve also developed a similar curriculum for supervisors of union level health cadres, for which we held a pilot session. You can read an interview with one of the participants of the session, Dr Kaniz, below. This curriculum, like the FWA curriculum will be used by NIPORT to train thousands of supervisors.

We Care is supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and coordinated through the Nuffic Orange Knowledge Programme.

Interview with a Participant

Dr Kaniz, an Upazilla Medical Officer from Khulna, Satkhira participated in September in a pilot of the supervisory curriculum. Besides her regular medical practice, she supervises 45 health staff although this should even been more due to a number of posts being vacant. The 45 staff are spread over 12 Family Welfare Centers (FWC) and related communities. 


Do you enjoy the interactive training? 

“Yes, absolutely. It’s for the first time that I am getting an interactive training session. I can give my opinion, the trainer then suggests or gives his/her opinion, we discuss with other participants in a group discussion and share each other’s thoughts and ideas and evaluate them“

What about the content? Is there anything new to be learned? 

“There are many things that are completely new in this new approach of training. I have learned a lot from the gender sessions. Well, I knew some information previously, but still the way this training has elaborated the topics is awesome. I have enjoyed the interpersonal communication session. We haven’t covered these topics before in any sessions.”

Was the training session about people with disability helpful?

“I have learned a lot regarding the people with disability. Considering the context of Bangladesh, disabled people feel ashamed or hesitate to come forward for medical assistance. They usually don’t seek for help. Now, it will be better if we can reach them as well or if they can reach us through others in some way. Another lesson that seemed important to me was the inclusive approach towards the indigenous people. I personally haven’t got any indigenous community in my Upazilla. But there are some in the other upazillas.”

What would you do differently once you’re back at work?

“Based on my learnings from these sessions, I have been planning to build up the interpersonal communication more closely, I will teach them (supervisees) about the sexually transmitted diseases. Actually, we need to learn about it more but no one likes to talk about these issues freely due to their sensitiveness. They feel shy to talk about these issues freely. Moreover, I will try to increase my efficiency in supervising.”

Do you think these trainings are necessary for every health worker?

 “I think everyone should attend these trainings or at least have the knowledge of these trainings. It will help them to change their views and approach towards their job.”

Related project

  • We Care

    • Institute
    • Project

    Government policies in Bangladesh recognise that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services and information are crucial. However, the technical capacity of health workers to provide them needs to be strengthened, especially to ensure the inclusion of vulnerable women and men, young people, people with disabilities and people from minority groups. “We Care” aims […]