Rafique bats for infant mortality campaign

Published: Thursday, July 28, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Dhaka:Bangladesh cricketer of the year Mohammed Rafique will use his star status to help reduce the impoverished South Asian country's massive mother and infant mortality rates, officials said.

Rafique, Bangladesh's highest wicket-taker since it gained Test status in 2000, will be a spokesman for a US-funded project to improve healthcare for mothers and newborn babies in Bangladesh, US embassy officials said.

"I feel honoured to work for this cause especially as I've seen several of my own relatives die young for lack of treatment," Rafique said on Thursday.

The cricketer will tour more than 300 clinics to talk to families about the importance of seeking early medical attention.

Three women an hour die in Bangladesh due to pregnancy and delivery complications, 100 times more than in Europe.

Experts say most deaths occur in rural areas because of delays in seeking medical help for complications during pregnancy.

Rafique grew up in a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Dhaka but his cricketing talent has made him one of his country's top earning players.

During Bangladesh's recent tour of England, Rafique, 34, played in all his side's matches against England and Australia. The tours highlight was a June 18 victory over Australia which saw thousands of jubilant Bangladeshis flood onto the streets to celebrate their team's achievement.

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