As part of our work to improve primary healthcare provision in Nepal, PHASE employs Nepalese women as Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) to provide extra maternity support in communities with limited access to primary healthcare. Putali Gurung, prior to her experience with an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife, knew little about the benefits that antenatal care could provide to her own health and her child’s health. Putali became pregnant at the age of 23 and when labour pains began Putali relied upon her family to help deliver the baby. A whole day passed and Putali’s labour pains failed to subside, her family and neighbours were unable to help the delivery. The next day her husband arranged some shamans to visit and they sacrificed some cockerels to ease the suffering and speed up the process of birth. Putali continued to struggle, and there was no sign of the pain easing or the baby.
On the third day, Putali was visited by a young women called Indra who worked for PHASE Nepal as an ANMs. After Putali explained that this was her third day in labour, Indra was concerned that there may be some complications preventing child birth. Due to the lack of government staff at the nearby health post, Indra called her office and asked an assistant to bring her some equipment to carry out some checks. After the equipment arrived, Indra was able to carry out the normal check-ups and advised that Putali went to a health facility immediately in order to be correctly supported with this child birth. Putali revealed to Indra how little she knew about healthcare checks-ups during pregnancy:
“It was the first time that I had heard about ANC check-ups for pregnant women. I learnt that if I’d had a check-up during pregnancy then I could have understood more about my health and that of my baby.”
Putali convinced her husband and some neighbours to take her to Machhakhola where the nearest staffed health post was. The journey took several hours due to the steepness of hills and the remoteness of her village Uhiya. At the health post in Machhakhola, Putali had no luck – difficulties persisted in the delivery and the staff posted there decided she needed to be referred to the central hospital. The ANMs organised the transfer of Putali to the government hospital in Gorkha and a staff member of PHASE Nepal accompanied her for the journey. On the fourth day, Putali arrived at the government hospital in Gorkha and finally gave birth.
Putali Gurung’s story highlights the importance of our healthcare work, training ANMs that in many cases provide life changing support and advice to Nepali women who are simply uneducated in pregnancy or unable to access healthcare facilities. PHASE continue to train ANMs and support community health posts so more women like Putali can receive essential healthcare during pregnancy.
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