Written by Tania Tauro, Project Officer, ARMMAN
Meet Bahurama Patil, a 29 year old Arogya Sakhi who hails from the village of Dahitna (Osmanabad district). She attended the Arogya Sakhi training held at the village of Jalkot which is half an hour away from her village. Along with 13 other Arogya Sakhis at her training site, Bahurama-tai learned how to use a Fetal Doppler to monitor heart rate of a fetus during the Gynecology Training held in June 2013. Unlike other ante natal diagnostictests that could be easily demonstrated and practiced at the training site, the module titled, ‘Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring and Abdominal Examination of Pregnant Woman’ could not be demonstrated. The Arogya Sakhis were therefore asked to go back to their villages and practice it on pregnant women in their neighborhood and come back with doubts and questions if any.
During the Pediatric Training held in July 2013, Bahurama-tai narrated her experience of conducting tests on a pregnant woman, one of three women she approached in her village to practice the gynecology tests on. The pregnant woman’s hemoglobin count was 6.5, which is much lower than the required level of 11 and so was the fetal heart rate which was 77. The Arogya Sakhis are taught that a woman has to be referred to the doctor if the fetal heart rate is below 120 or above 160 beats per minute. The other test results (blood sugar, blood pressure, abdominal examination) were normal. Bahurama –tai claims that she wasn’t confident about her test results although she had performed all tests as per the instructions given in the modules that she was trained in. She referred the pregnant woman to a doctor and stated she was afraid all the while, praying that the fetus was alright and at the very same time hoping that she had performed the tests accurately else she would lose the woman’s trust. She was furthermoreworried because the pregnant woman belonged to one of the rich and influential families of the village and thereby had the potential to adversely impact her aspiration of establishing herself as an Arogya Sakhi [in case her diagnosis was wrong]. However, Bahurama –tai was proved right after a doctor examined the woman. The pregnant woman’s hemoglobin level the doctor stated was same as what Bahurama- tai had recorded and so was true of the fetus’ heart rate measurement. The doctor prescribed medicines and wanted to know who it was that had sent the pregnant woman to him. The family of the pregnant woman offered Bahurama-tai a room in their house where they want her to set shop with the medical kit. The family wished that other villagers too could have an easy access to her services! This offer she had to refuse (since it won’t fit in with the project’s objectives). They also wanted her to recommend a doctor whom they could approach for the essential visits to be made during pregnancy. Bahurama-tai was happy and relieved. She grew in confidence to conduct all the tests. She took joy in the fact that people in her village recognized her as an Arogya Sakhi already, even before her work has started off!
Bahurama- tai is currently providing home based diagnostic care to the enrolled pregnant women in her village. The women and their families are extremely happy with her services. They look forward to her visits. As per the project requirements Bahurama-tai has been given a phone that has animations on pregnancy and infancy care. (You could check out our anemia, family planning and HIV/AIDS testing animations!) The beneficiaries love the animations and Bahurama-tai holds discussions on the animation topics with them.