Having a health worker in a village can save lives, even with nothing more sophisticated than a few packets of oral rehydration salts!
This story isn’t even from one of our more remote health posts, but when parents don’t have the knowledge to prevent dehydration, having someone like Puspa is absolutely essential for the children’s wellbeing!
Sanimaya Tamang lives in Hagam district which, although only a day from Kathmandu is still an isolated district where there was little health provision before PHASE. One day, Sanimaya brought her 10 month old baby Ambika to the health post. – She is one of twins, but her sister had died. Generally a very healthy baby she had developed simple diarrhea that day. Puspa gave the mother advice and Oral rehydration salts (ORS). The next day, the mother returned with the baby which looked as if she was going to die: Her eyes were sunken and clouded, the fontanelle was sunken, she had a very dry mouth and dry lips and no skin turgor, she was lethargic and hardly responding, not moving at all.
Puspa knew the child needed to be rehydrated as soon as possible. There was no way she could give her IV fluids as all her peripheral veins had collapsed so she used the oral method. For a long time, she was sitting herself spooning ORS into the baby’s mouth, who fortunately was still able to swallow. After about two hours the baby started to cry and move a little. Puspa was immensely relieved and gave the task of continuing the ORS to the mother. She kept her near the health post for a few more hours, by which time the child looked definitely on the road to recovery. Before sending her back home, Puspa re-enforced the teaching regarding ORS, and also taught a neighbor, who seemed to grasp the concept a bit better than mum herself.
She asked them to return next day for follow up, and they did – and the baby was completely back to its usual happy, bouncy self!