Sultana Begum is now happy since as she knows how to take care of women during their pregnancy period, five risk factors of pregnant women and how to ensure safe delivery.
She had learnt all these from health workers of a camp set up in Chanandi union of Hatia upazila under Noakhali district. The camp has been set up to provide healthcare services to the poor and vulnerable women living in the natural calamities prone coastal belt.
The health camp set up with the financial support of “Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF)” for the women aged from 19 to 59 in different ‘char areas’ of Hatia upzila where people especially women were deprived of such
healthcare services for long.
Sultana is now pregnant and waiting for giving birth of her third issue. “Now I know everything how I will take care of myself and my baby, the five risk factors of pregnancy period and how to conduct a safe delivery,” she said.
She added, “The people in the coastal areas did not know about these in the past and as a result many women died during their delivery period”. She said the health workers of the camp have been providing necessary suggestions about the health of pregnant women and conducting regular health checkups.
Arjina Begum (40), a mother of five children, who came to the camp to take medicare services, said she got married when she was a child and as a result she had been suffering from some gynecology related problems. She said paramedic doctors have been treating her and she is now recovering from ailments.
Another woman Amiron Begum said she came to the health camp with her daughter-in- law, a pregnant teen whose age is only 17. “I came to know about the five risk factors of pregnant women after coming to the camp. Now, I can take care of my daughter in-law and suggest her what to do during pregnancy period and after birth of a child,” she said.
She said the health workers of the camp have been visiting each houses and providing healthcare services to the women, who were long been deprived of such facilities.
Executive director of “Dwip Unnayan Sangstha” Rafiqul Amin said the health services are being provided through a ‘Samity’ consisting 30 members, including three paramedic doctors. The camp is used to set up in separate houses. Each member of the ‘Samity’ has been provided a health card in exchange for Taka 100 to get health services of all family members round the year.
Apart from three paramedics, each camp has 25 trained midwives for
providing an array of healthcare services for women including gynecological examinations, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, and labor and delivery care.
Amin said the health camp has been playing a crucial role in providing health services to the pregnant women in the remote village as the government health complex is two-kilometer away from the village.
He said if any emergency arises, the patients have to go to Maizdi General Hospital under Noakhali district for treatment. The hospital is 40-kilometre away from the village.
Health Worker Nazma Akhtar said the girls of this area become mother at the age of 15 or 16 since they got married during their childhood. Due to salinity, people especially the women in this area suffer from various types of skin diseases and malnutrition as well, she added.
Smirity Kona Majumder, another health worker, said they are providing at least 15 types of medicine from the health camp free of cost. Each member of the Samity can take medicine up to Taka 5,00 free of cost.
Apart from these, they provide iron and vitamin tablets to the pregnant women on a regular basis free of cost. But they can’t administer vaccine to the new born baby and the mother. For that they have to go to upazila health complex, she added.
Union Parishad Member Tahera Khanam said despite government efforts, maternal mortality rate was high in the area due to child marriage and lack of proper knowledge.
According to locals, there is only one government community clinic in Nijhum Dweep. Transport communication from different “Char” and Nijhum Dweep to Noakhali is in a bad shape. Most of couples in this area did not come under family planning system.
Doctor Nahid Uddin said at least 45 percent girl in this area become mother before 18. Lack of proper education, weak road communications, lack of awareness about food, health and nutrition, absence of sanitary latrines and pure drinking water are the major health challenges in this area.
Deputy managing director of PKSF Dr. Md. Jasim Uddin said that PKSF has already spent Taka 40 crore for water management in coastal belt and Taka 50 crore in health sector under its “Samridhi” programme. It (PKSF) also spent Taka another 30 crore in water management and health sector from other projects, he added.
Chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) and renowned economist Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmed said the activities of “Samridhi” have been expanded to 150 union from the earlier 21 across the country. At least 111 non-government organizations have been implementing the projects under the financial support of PKSF to provide healthcare services to the poor and vulnerable women.
He said the activities of ‘Samridhi’ should be expanded to other parts of the remote areas to provide healthcare services to the women. He said more fund is needed to this end.