MaMoni Stories during COVID: Beauty Akhter (Midwife)

Beauty Akhter checks a pregnant patient during an antenatal care visit
Photo: Save the Children
Beauty Akhter, an infinitely courageous midwife, is providing uninterrupted healthcare services to the helpless and destitute people in the remote chars (riverine islands) of Bangladesh. Initially working in a different upazila, Beauty took it as a challenge and transferred to Jonaki Guccha village of Nilkomol union in Haimchar upazila of Chandpur in December 2019.

Nilkomol union has a population of 19 thousand, but Jonaki village has no modern healthcare facilities available. To reach the village, one has to travel across the Meghna river and then about two and half hours on foot. During the rainy season, communication is worse and travel is risky due to the high tides.

The villagers here have heard very little of the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly from word of mouth and the few solar-powered televisions that are present. They do not understand social distancing and are more concerned about earning their daily bread.

In the midst of all this, Beauty is trying to provide healthcare services 24 hours, 7 days a week to the women to the best of her abilities. Despite all the obstacles, Beauty feels that this is the time to be brave and if she doesn’t continue this service, then who will in this time of need? She is in this profession by choice and will not shy away from her duties. She travels from village to village and provides essential healthcare services to pregnant women. Her dream is to see the smiling faces of every newborn she is able to deliver. In the last one month, she delivered one child and has provided antenatal care to 20 pregnant women, along with family planning counselling to around 25 villagers.

These small successes in this remote island are part of Beauty’s goal to ensure safe motherhood for all the pregnant women. She is concerned that there are many women in this village who are still not aware that they need antenatal checkups during pregnancy, and rely on homebirths done in their barns. The COVID-19 situation lies heavy in her heart, but she believes that brighter days are not far away and there will come a time when women themselves will visit her in her healthcare center for checkups and safe delivery.

~ 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.