Ismat Ara works with a critical gap management of essential health services. She is one of 14 paramedics deployed by USAID supported MaMoni Health Strengthening Project in strategically located areas in Lakshmipur District in a southeastern part of Bangladesh.
All fourteen provide antenatal care ANC and postnatal care PNC services to pregnant and lactating mothers at the union facilities and with the help of satellite services.When necessary, the paramedics are trained to conduct complicated deliveries and are eligible to refer in time.
One of the many success stories of the paramedics is saving the lives of Hasina Banu (25) and her newborn baby.
Hasina was early in her third trimester when her water broke. She had earlier delivered a stillborn baby in her seventh month of pregnancy. She also suffered from anemia.On the 16th of March in 2014 Hasina felt contractions.
Her husband Ali Arjon immediately contacted Ismat. Ismat's initial recommendation was to transfer Hasina to Uttor Joypur Union Health and Family Welfare Center (UH&FWC) which was the closest union level facility.
Ismat was familiar with Hasina's condition from the ANC sessions she had provided the facility. During the check-up Ismat found out that the head of the newborn was already engaged and she decided to conduct the delivery at the UH&FWC with the assistance of another MaMoni
paramedic, Fatima Begum.The delivery was successful, but soon after Hasina started bleeding profusely and fell unconscious. The premature baby weighed 1800 grams and looked fragile.
Ismat urgently requested Ali to transfer both Hasina and the newborn baby to Lakshmipur District Hospital. The mother and the baby were immediately taken to the hospital where they stayed five days. Hasina and the baby recovered and on the day of their return Ali said to Ismat
"God saved my life because you were there".
Gonoshasthaya Kendra gave private tuition to Ismat on Skilled Birth Attendance. Ismat provides counseling on ANC, PNC, family planning, child health, general health services and also conducts safe deliveries. She was able to refer Hasina to a more advanced facility at a crucial point. Ismat said, "I helped to save a mother's life by working as a paramedic."
Skilled Attendance at Birth (SBA) is the most crucial intervention to engender substantial gain in maternal and newborn survival and well-being. Global evidence suggests that maternal mortality ratio has an inverse linear relationship with SBA coverage. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has identified SBA coverage as one of the key indicators towards achieving MDG 4 and 5 goals. This has been reiterated in July 2013 in the Bangladesh Call for Action to End Preventable Child Deaths by 2035 as well as in April 2014 in the Bangladesh Position Paper to End Preventable Maternal Mortality by 2030.
- Feature prepared by Save the Children in Bangladesh