With the birth of two wonderful little girls in my extended family this week in Ireland I am reminded of the mother and baby ward in Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital in southern Nepal.
This last week in February there have been 3 births in Lalgadh, two girls and a boy. All going well the mothers will return home with their newborn baby about 5 or 6 hours after birth. The normal birth figures in the hospital are an average of two a month.
This low figure is due to three things:
1. the specialised ward is a new facility within the hospital compound
2. most mothers have their babies at home and continue with normal daily life
3. the hospital is situated in rural Nepal and travelling long distance, at short notice, usually on foot is not ideal during labour.
This trend is slowly changing as a result of the Village Alive Program which includes training of Rural Health Champions (RHC).
The RHC’s are women working on a voluntary basis and have been selected by their respective villages. These women take part in efforts to control diarrhea, vomiting, malnutrition, malaria, and tuberculosis and referral advice when required. Most of them were illiterate, but now function as health volunteers, measuring blood pressure and performing examinations, including examination of pregnant women. They are also able to recognise danger signs and advise to move pregnant women to hospital if necessary.