LAMB (Lutheran Aid to Medicine in Bangladesh) was founded in 1979 near Parbatipur in NW Bangladesh. Broadly speaking, it now comprises a 150-bed general hospital serving a catchment area of around 1.5 million and an extensive community health programme serving a population of some 5 million.
LAMB is unique due to...
its rural isolation in one of the poorest parts of a country, which itself has one of the highest numbers of ultra poor and malnourished people in the world.
its focus on maternal, neonatal and paediatric health. These are key priorities in healthcare globally.
its integrated nature. LAMB focuses on providing primary healthcare as close to home as possible, referral services at LAMB Hospital, the training of health workers for hospital and primary health care as well as high quality published field research into maternal, neonatal, and paediatric health.
the impact it has far beyond its local services. LAMB has gained credibility as a result of its published research including in the LANCET and the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In fact, in a recent review by a technical group into the best practices in Bangladesh when it comes to saving newborn lives, 3 of the top 5 ranked practices nationally (Safe Delivery Units, kangaroo mother care and the routine use of the partograph) came from LAMB.
the variety of models it uses in its sustainable and accessible delivery services, especially the Safe Delivery Units (SDUs), in partnership with both the local community and the public sector.
its MIS-R (Management, Information System for Research) which has excellent data collection and therefore reliable results. Almost no-one else worldwide has accurate data on stillbirth rates but these are routine at LAMB and formed the basis of the LANCET publication. This data has enabled LAMB to confidently document a clear fall in maternal mortality and child mortality in its core working area.
its preference for providing basic, affordable health care for all and subsidy to the poorest, who are 2/3 of the users. This goes against the trend of expensive drugs and services. Caesarian Section (CS) rates at LAMB are only 20% of births, which is extraordinary compared with most hospitals in Bangladesh, where for the few comparatively wealthy mothers, who choose to go to hospital to deliver rather than give birth in unsanitary, unsupported conditions at home, the CS rates are almost always over 50%, and sometimes much higher. This is considerably higher than would be necessary on medical grounds.
its Training Centre which offers comprehensive academic and practical courses for rural health workers (especially skilled birth attendants), nurses and midwives at a very high level. Arguably, this produces more competent practitioners than anywhere else in Bangladesh as they are trained and prepared to serve in both rural birth centres and hospitals due to the practical link between the SDUs and hospital.
it being very cost-effective and having low overheads. This is a result of the huge amount of volunteerism from LAMB expat staff and others, including LAMB Health trustees.