| Mar 20, 2019
An SBA's Reason for Hope
Atop the hills just south of the Himalayas, in Nepal’s Sankhuwasabha District, rests the small town named Siddhakali. On clear days, clusters of snow-capped mountains can be seen from Siddhakali’s main street - a narrow dirt road lined on each side with an assortment of local businesses and residences. A half kilometer down the road, opposite the local Health Post, sits the Siddhakali Birthing Center (BC). This cozy thatched-roof, clay building provides prenatal and delivery services to more women than any other BC in the district. Sunita has been working as Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) at the Siddhakali BC for nearly three decades and is one of the most well-known and respected health workers in the district. Born and raised in the area, Sunita has worked here since it first opened as a single rented room serving the six thousand people in Siddhakali and its surrounding villages.
Ever since her mother died shortly after giving birth to Sunita’s younger sister, she has made it her mission in life to improve the quality of maternal care in Nepal. Sunita is currently leading the effort for Siddhakali to be recognized as one of the zero-home-delivery municipalities. “I have always wanted to be a health professional,” she explained. “My mother passed away because of a retained placenta, three days after giving birth to my sister. I was too young to remember everything in detail but I remember that after, things were never the same.” Sunita has worked her entire life to ensure women in Nepal do not have suffer to the same fate as her mother. “Looking back, I’m glad that I have chosen to live my life helping women have safe deliveries.”
Sunita was honored to be the first person appointed by the Nepali Government to work at the Siddhakali BC and has thrown her heart and soul into serving the community and its mothers despite the cramped quarters of the previous space. A 2018 renovation vastly increased the capacity of the facility by upgrading its exterior, waiting room, exam and pregnancy counseling room, and completely overhauled the existing delivery room. In addition, a brand new recovery room was added to allow new mothers a comforting space to heal and bond with their new babies after delivery. The six health workers who manage the BC’s 24/7 delivery services are thrilled with their new work environment and take great pride in sharing the space with any who are in need of care.
Since the BC renovations were completed, Sunita believes Siddhakali is well on its way to achieving its goal to be a zero-home-delivery municipality. “Times have changed a lot since I began. I used to regularly make home visits to perform deliveries. Fortunately, we have worked hard to educate communities about the importance of attending regular ANC check-ups and giving birth in a health facility.” “It took a while,” Sunita lamented, “but now we are on our way to making Siddhakali a place where no woman will die during childbirth. Now we have the tools we need and a beautiful place where mothers will want to come and have their babies. We are so grateful to OHW for supporting us towards achieving our goals.”
In Their Own Words
Manisha K., 24, is eight months pregnant with her second child and has arrived for a check-up. She gave birth to her first born before the Siddhakali BC upgrades were completed.
“I never imagined that it would turn out to be this good during the construction. It looks more like a ‘hospital’ with tiled floors, ceilings, lights and equipment, around here. I feel more secure about being a mother this time around. The fact that we have a qualified Skilled Birth Attendant at the BC makes a lot of difference too.”
Sanju L., 20, is four months pregnant with her first child.
“We were thinking about going to one of the larger towns down in the plains for our delivery. I was bit skeptical about the birthing center upgrades being completed before my expected delivery date. Now, after the renovations, I feel very confident about having a safe delivery right in our local BC. With all the resources and manpower in place, I’m happy that the younger generations will not have to go through what we and our mothers did.”
Dagini S., 28, has worked as a Female Community Health Volunteer for the last six years. She is both hopeful and confident about Siddhakali becoming a zero-home-delivery municipality.
“The number of women giving birth at home has decreased significantly in the last two years. Before, we had to be to be stubborn in order for people understand the importance of having regular check-ups. Now, they come to us. I am sure that we will achieve zero-home-delivery in few years.”
OHW currently works in the 12 remote districts of Nepal reporting highest number of childbirth-related maternal and neonatal deaths. Through our Network of Safety program, we touch thousands of pregnancies and save numerous lives by strengthening pre-existing health care system.