Reaching Pregnant Women in Pakistan with Essential Health Services

March 3rd, 2021 | Story

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In 2020, the USAID-funded Integrated Health Systems Strengthening and Service Delivery Activity (IHSS-SD) supported free health services in the Pakistani village of Kody for women from the surrounding area.

When 25-year-old Nadia heard she could get free care, she walked the two kilometers from her home to the clinic despite the fact that she was nine months pregnant. Upon arrival, Gul Rang, the medical officer of the women’s clinic, examined Nadia and realized she was about to give birth. Gul Rang told the lady health worker and other female staff on duty to prepare for an immediate delivery. Nadia delivered a healthy baby girl who she named Shukria, which means ‘thank you’ in Urdu.

A few months before Nadia gave birth, the JSI-run IHSS-SD and partner Rural Support Programme Network started conducting health awareness sessions in the district of Charsadda. Community resource persons (CRPs) trained by IHSS-SD visited villages, including Nadia’s, to encourage people to attend sessions. People trust CRPs because they are local and understand the needs of community members.

It was through a CRP that Nadia was first connected to services at a basic health unit (BHU).

Fauzia [a CRP] visited our home to invite me to the awareness session few months back because having a baby was my most wanted wish. In the session, I learned helpful health care tips and guidance.”

Fauzia referred Nadia to the BHU for prenatal care. There, Nadia met Nusrat, a lady health worker also trained on maternal, newborn, and child health services by IHSS-SD. From then on, Nusrat monitored Nadia’s pregnancy. “Nusrat further built my confidence as I was comfortable to share and discuss anything regarding my health,” said Nadia.

Nadia wanted to have a check-up with a woman but there were no female medical officers or ultrasound equipment at the BHU. Nusrat referred Nadia to the free clinic, where the ultrasound alerted the women’s medical officer that Nadia was ready to give birth.

Our IHSS-SD project supported a mobile unit in the Pakistani village of Kody to provide free health services to women from the surrounding area.

Shukria’s first vaccination, 45 days after birth.

Shukria’s birth was an occasion of great joy because Nadia’s previous pregnancies did not reach full term. Her economic situation and where she lives made it very difficult for Nadia to visit a health facility.

Nadia and Shukria continued to visit the BHU for postnatal care and vaccinations. As Nadia recalled, “I did not know where else to go. I heard about the [services] and that it will be free for me and I would see senior lady doctor. This time, I didn’t want to take any risk. Thanks to all staff for saving me and the baby.”

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