By: Krishna Dangi
It’s a blazing hot day in Manthali, headquarters of the Ramechhap District, tucked across the basin of Tamakoshi River, by the barren side of the hill. By 10:30am, the temperature has shot up to 32° C (90° F), making us sweat incessantly.
Five and a half hours later, we’re shivering cold. Priti, a gorgeous mountain village, was blanketed in fog that thickened upon our arrival and disappeared in no time — only to appear again, welcoming us with a sudden afternoon drizzle.
The journey from the District Headquarters and Priti is strenuous, taking us down a rock-strewn, mud-slicked road that switchbacks down the valley. But, captivated by the beauty of the place, our exhaustion is soon replaced with awe.
With the government of Nepal adopting the federal system, fresh streaks of infrastructure development has slowly crept into even the remote corners of Nepal — evident especially from the ongoing construction of remote dirt-tracks at different part of the country.
The first-hand experience of traveling on dangerous road networks, connecting some of the highest regions in the world, is something akin to doing adventure sports for long hours. No wonder your heart skips a beat at different bends and sections. It is baffling to witness the drivers at work on these roads, and the crucial role they play in saving the lives of the people living in these hard to reach places.
The Case of Bedmaya Sunuwar
The hills are a sight of spectacular green. We walked for almost four hours down the steep hill to reach Bedmaya’s house. The 22-year-old mother of three was rocking one of her newborn son’s on her lap, while the other kicked the air nearby. Her two-and-half year old daughter was under the care of her mother-in-law. Her husband had gone to the District Headquarter’s.
Bedmaya’s family (her husband, three children, and in-laws) lives in a village mostly inhabited by Sunuwars, one of the indigenous castes of Kiranti people. Although she had visited the Priti Health for Antenatal check-ups, she had her first childbirth at home. She was looking forward to having her childbirth at home this time around as well, but those plans went awry. Bedmaya was fortunate to have even survived her second pregnancy due to a scary complication.
On the day of her expected delivery date, after finishing her morning household chores, Bedmaya walked for an hour to work on her field. She manned the field they were preparing for maize cultivation throughout the day, when she began to have acute back pain that slowly crept into her abdomen.
“I have a very faint memory of that night. I might have passed out due to pain. I have some flashes of darkness. I was at Jiri Hospital at one point but woke up on the hospital bed at Kathmandu. I was feeling little bit better then. The doctors confirmed me that I was pregnant with twins there. I delivered my first child by natural means but could not deliver my second child. I had the surgery for my second delivery. I stayed at the hospital for about a week. I am fortunate to be alive.”
Devi Maya Sunuwar, ANM at the Priti Health Post, who had observed Bedmaya during the ANC check-ups, concludes that Bedmaya had been lucky in so many ways to have survived the childbirth.
“We do not have ultrasound service at our health post. But considering that her abdomen was relatively big, we had suspected for a twin pregnancy. We had counseled her to either go to the district hospital or Jiri Hospital, to do the ultrasound, but it turns out that she had not done so.
She had the cervical dilation, but she was not progressing into labor. After examining for few hours, we had no options other than referring the case to the bigger hospitals. We later figured out that her case was so complicated that she was referred to Kathmandu from the Jiri Hospital. We are indebted to the driver who volunteered to drive her to Jiri Hospital and then to Kathmandu in our Ambulance because our driver was sick, himself. Had it rained that time or during the day, they might not have ever made it out of the district because the road gets shut down during monsoon weather.”
One Heart Worldwide recently supported the Priti Health Post with all the essential birthing center equipment. Two members of the nursing staff, one from the Priti Health Post, recently completed OHW’s two-month Skilled Birth Attendant training to become government certified SBAs.
OHW began working in Ramechhap in November 2018, and is actively implementing the Network of Safety model in the district. This is the most resource-intensive phase. The major focus for the next three years will be to implement training programs and facility upgrades. Medical providers will be trained to become SBAs, and continuing medical education will be provided to existing SBAs. Female community health volunteers will be trained to become community outreach providers, and local stakeholders will be trained in birthing center management and program collaboration. Health facilities will be upgraded into fully functioning, government certified birthing centers. OHW’s mission to combat maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity is making progress through our activities in this remote district.
For more information on the Network of Safety, click here.
To help other mother’s like Bedmaya, click here.
Originally published at https://www.oneheartworldwide.org on July 23, 2019.