Photo by Pathfinder Bangladesh

In 1957, Pathfinder’s founder funded Bangladesh’s national Family Planning Association. This became a model for our work, building the capacity of governments and local organizations to foster sustainable improvements in reproductive health.

Photo by Pathfinder Bangladesh

By 1978, Pathfinder supported 14 urban NGOs when we decided to launch a community-based system of contraceptive distribution, one of the earliest and most innovative models.

Photo by Olivia Moseley

The system focused on expanding acceptance and use of contraception by providing it to women within their own neighborhoods. This model of empowering local women to reach out to their peers with critical services has become a hallmark of our work.

Photo by T. Cody Swift

Through more than 30 projects, Pathfinder has played a key role in helping to reach underserved populations, improve the quality of sexual and reproductive health services, and strengthen more than 60 Bangladeshi partner NGOs.

Photo by T. Cody Swift

During this time, population growth and total fertility have decreased by half, and the health of women and families is improving.

Photo by Mary Burket

Despite successes in reducing total fertility, Bangladesh remains one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Yearly flooding and a shortage of trained health personnel—continue to bar women from accessing the services they need.

Photo by Olivia Moseley

So Pathfinder is working to reach them. Through our programs, we continue to lead capacity building efforts, as well as improvements in health services for Bangladeshi women, especially those who are hardest to reach.

Pathfinder International works in Bangladesh on a range of sexual and reproductive health issues—from family planning to maternal and newborn care—with a special focus on reaching underserved populations.

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world—and growing. The current population of Bangladesh is projected to reach 230-250 million by 2050, even if replacement fertility is reached today. With more than 2,500 people per square mile, many Bangladeshis are landless or are forced to live on and cultivate flood-prone land. About a third of the country floods during the monsoon season every year, creating a relief crisis and hampering regular development efforts. Bangladesh is also currently experiencing a nationwide shortage of trained health personnel with only five doctors for every 10,000 people on average and only one doctor per 10,000 people living in rural areas.

Only 32 percent of births in Bangladesh are attended by a skilled health provider and 49 percent of pregnant women receive no antenatal care from a trained provider.

Bangladesh is declared by WHO as one of the 58 crisis countries facing an acute human resources for health crisis.

Pathfinder has been a leader in the reproductive health and family planning movement in Bangladesh since the early 1950s. Since that time, through more than 30 projects, Pathfinder has played a key role in helping Bangladesh develop and integrate its national family planning and maternal-child health programs, reach underserved populations, improve quality of services, and build the capacity of partner NGOs.

The Pathfinder country office was established in 1978 and since then Pathfinder has implemented numerous projects focused on improving access to reproductive health care, contraception, and education. Of those projects, three were the largest health programs in the region during their implementation. From 1978 through 2011 Pathfinder has served about 14 percent of Bangladesh's population, urban and rural, in 61 of 64 districts.


In Bangladesh, one of the most densely-populated countries in the world, there is one doctor on average for every 10,000 people. Your gift of $25 or $50 helps women and families access contraception, maternal and newborn care services, and a range of other reproductive health services.

Our Projects

NGO Health Service Delivery thumbnail

NGO Health Service Delivery Project (NHSDP)

Systems Strengthening Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Maternal & Newborn Health Contraception & Family Planning

The NGO Health Service Delivery Project focuses on technical assistance and capacity building to local non-government organizations to manage and provide quality services reaching underserved populations in Bangladesh.

Related Publications

August 2016

Implementing Performance-based Grants For Improved NGO Performance in Bangladesh

This technical brief explores performance-based grants implementation and offers insights on the use of pay-for-performance mechanisms at the NGO level in Bangladesh.

December 2014

Change Starts Here: Pathfinder International 2014 Annual Report

We believe change starts with expertly trained providers and pharmacies that never run out of supplies. It starts with open conversations among women, young people, men, religious leaders, mothers-in-law, policymakers, and others, joining to discuss their beliefs and remove barriers to their health and well-being. Our 2014 Annual Report shows a few highlights of how Pathfinder has served as a catalyst for change over the past year.

November 2014

Leave No Woman Behind

It was a matter of life and death for Jenelia, who lives in a remote mountain village in Haiti, the most dangerous place to give birth in the Western Hemisphere. This issue of Pathways explores how mobile technology is changing the way community health workers are delivering health services to women like Jenelia.

August 2014

Research and Evaluation Working Paper Series

The purpose of the Working Paper Series is to disseminate work in progress by Pathfinder International staff on critical issues of population, reproductive health, and development.

Related News

Chevron Donates Ambulance to Bibiyana Clinic

Chevron Bangladesh President Kevin Lyon handed over an ambulance for two Smiling Sun clinics, established by Chevron to serve the communities near its Bibiyana gas field. Implemented by international NGO Pathfinder International, the clinics are under the nationwide USAID-sponsored Smiling Sun Franchise Program.

Saving Pregnant Mothers: Red Flag Approach

Pathfinder's Surjer Hashi Clinic (Smiling Sun) has unified Bangladesh's Teknaf community towards one goal: save pregnant mother. Among the many innovations introduced by clinic, one has been the demarcation of houses occupied by pregnant mothers with red flags - enabling neighbors to come together and help that particular family when required.

"As Mariam Bibi, near 30 with two children said in her own words, 'When I was pregnant the second time, my husband, a small trader was unable to take proper care for me. Moreover, our house is so far from upazila health complex, regular check-ups were not possible. In the mean time Surjer Hashi Clinic came forward to help me prevent health problems associated with pregnancy. They hung a red flag atop my house so that everybody could see and understand the need to help pregnant mothers like me.'"

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