MaMoni Stories during COVID: Kazol Rani Paul (Midwife)

Kazol Rani Paul with a patient at Ramgonj UHC
Photo: Save the Children
Right now Bangladesh like other countries of the world is battling its fight against COVID-19. Entire health system is heavily occupied in meeting the rising demands of health services for COVID-19 patients and continuing their emergency medical services. There is decline in demand of seeking healthcare services from general patients fearing contraction of the virus. The question remains, what would the expectant mothers do in such a scenario? Do they still go to healthcare centers for their checkups and deliveries?

In the beginning of this pandemic, number of visiting mothers started reducing. Mostly because they had no directions on what to do. As well as, service providers themselves were not yet ready to prepare their facilities and themselves following the measures required to continue maternal and newborn care services. But they did not have time to pause. Midwives, paramedics, Family Welfare Visitors, nurses and doctors in the public facilities all around the country soon geared up to continue their services. Many came up with their own initiatives to encourage women and their families in visiting healthcare centers. Some went farther to make one to one calls for follow-up checkups. Some engaged local elected members or government bodies to raise awareness on their open service centers and their safety measures taken.

In Lakshmipur, four such midwives are working in the Ramgonj Upazila Health Complex. One of them, Kazol Rani Paul, has been working here for last 17 years. Starting her career as a nurse she soon graduated as a certified midwife offering antenatal, normal delivery, postnatal, family planning and newborn care services. In her entire career, Kazol has never experienced a pandemic as such where she equally feared for own life and that of her patients.

There were already COVID-19 positive patients identified in this upazila. Residents were panic stricken. Mobility restrictions and economic vulnerabilities became major concerns for them. Despite their families concerns for their lives, Kazol and three other midwives stayed back in their work station and continued their services. Very recently she even performed a complicated case of child delivery on a 19-year-old mother who did not want to come to the health center fearing the virus contraction. When she entered and saw that sufficient health safety measures have been taken here, she gradually calmed down. Kazol maintained all the protocols herself too to ensure a safe journey of motherhood. She provided mask for the mother; and ensured hygienic passage to the delivery room and wash area. She herself had her protective gears during the whole process. Kazol even was able to help the baby receive skin-to-skin care from the mother and being breastfed within the first crucial hour of birth. Efficiently handling this patient gave confidence to more women in visiting the healthcare center.

This Upazila Health Complex generally provides an average of 100 antenatal care, 30 deliveries and 40 postnatal care services per month. During this pandemic, these numbers went down almost to halves in April. But Kazol is hopeful as gradually these numbers started increasing after raising much awareness in the area on their preparedness to tackle COVID-19 situation. Midwives like Kazol knows this is high time that their roles become evident in saving lives. Fear of Corona Virus is high, so is the number of preventable maternal deaths in our country. As frontline health professionals, she believes it is now her duty to fight these two together. Her counselling sessions now is two-folded- information on preventing Corona Virus and ensuring a safe motherhood experience for all.

~ USAID’s MaMoni Maternal and Newborn Care Strengthening Project supports the government in achieving its goal of reducing maternal and newborn death rate in ten districts of Bangladesh, where ensuring a safe journey of motherhood, availability of quality services and resources are of high concern. Some of the project’s various interventions in its project areas include improving facility readiness and development of skills of health workers through training and counselling.

Disclaimer: The COVID-19 response stories reflect the continuity of essential maternal and newborn care related services amidst the pandemic in the project areas. No additional USAID funding has been mobilized for COVID-19 response. MaMoni MNCSP team mobilized local government and community people for additional resources as well as provided the service providers with necessary instructions and government guidelines to prepare their facilities to serve properly under the circumstances.