Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Nursing is my superpower

Ratan Kunwar 




It is a typical summer day in Jhalawar, Rajasthan. The journey to the field is long and bumpy and yet the landscapes, so well anchored in time, offer an extravagant simplicity beyond any polished beauty. We are here to meet and better understand the work and life of Ratan Kunwar, a young ANM posted in Moondla sub-center of Khanpur Block in Jhalawar District of Rajasthan. She has been providing healthcare services for over a year now.
How did you get involved in this work?
I was lucky to have been given a proper education, unlike many girls in my village. When I graduated, the next step was finding a job to earn for my family. Who knew that one day, following my friends to fill out a form for healthcare services would change my life for the better.
What is a work day in your life like?
I live with my elder brother and his wife, so I wake up at 5:30am every day to help my sister-in-law with household chores. After that I set out on my scooter to the field, covering about 70-80 km every day. I am in-charge of 11 villages and take care of the VHND (Village Health and Nutrition Day) where I perform vaccination of pregnant women and children. My work also includes tasks such as counselling high risk pregnant women, home-based post-natal care, and motivating couples to maintain a gap of three years between two kids. I return by 5PM to 6PM in the evening.
What are some challenges that you face in carrying out your work?
In a population of 5,257, there is a substantial population (1,230) of scheduled tribe and scheduled castes. For most part of the year, they migrate from one place to another in search of work. This makes it difficult to track them for vaccination as they keep changing their phone numbers as well.
One case where you felt you were instrumental in saving a life?
Once during a woman’s ANC check-up, I discovered that she had an increased blood pressure. Her sonography revealed that her baby had died in the womb (intra-uterine death). I referred her to the district hospital in Jhalawar, which is more equipped with skilled staff to deal with such cases. She insisted we deliver the foetus there but I counselled that her life would be at risk if she does so. In the end, she delivered her foetus safely at the Jhalawar district hospital. She was understandably distraught and blamed us for the death of her baby but I am only thankful that I could save at least one life that day. Her life.
How do you believe we can achieve substantial improvements in maternal health?
I think that a regular training of the frontline workers can improve things in the villages. I oversee 11 villages and I don’t mind confessing that I need help. Having another ANM would ensure that not a single beneficiary is left out.
Before Ratan got posted in Moondla, the position lay vacant for two years. When she joined, she was welcomed with phrases such as, “finally someone is coming to vaccinate our women and children” and “we were unaware of the government’s provisions and services”. It is these sentiments of people which motivate her to continue her work and provide better healthcare.

Ratan Kunwar is an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife in Moondala, Rajasthan

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