This section hosts guidelines, manuals and toolkits to strengthen public health practice.
A diamond, as they say, is a chunk of charcoal that just did extremely well under pressure. Vaijanti Bhoi is one in the truest of senses. Be it problems with road connectivity, inaccessibility during monsoons or any other challenges in providing healthcare services – Vajanti Bhoi has faced the biggest hurdles and overcome them like a true champion. It is of little surprise that she was recently awarded the best ANM, and her team is known as one of the best frontline teams in the district.
Positioned as an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) in one of the most remote areas of Mahasamund, Chhattisgarh, she has been working at the Sukhipali sub-health centre for the last ten years. The centre is now upgraded as an Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Center (AB-HWC). The terrain, however, represents unique challenges for her and the team. Even after the roads have been connected to nearby blocks, transportation remains a hurdle. During monsoons, the villages get landlocked due to frequent flooding which leaves people disconnected from central areas, and essential supplies to the villages get disrupted.
In addition to the physical and geographical barriers, Vaijanti had to encounter various challenges related to healthcare service delivery when she joined as an ANM in 2010. She recalls that initially all the deliveries in her area were either being done at home or small private clinics or at the Community Health Centre which is located at a distance of about 20 kilometers, quite a distance for a place where regular modes of transport are unavailable.
However, none of these obstacles deterred Vaijanti from performing her duties. Belonging to the same community, she could understand the day-to-day hardships faced by people especially while seeking healthcare. This is what motivated her to undergo the ANM training 10 years back and since then she has been serving her community. Considering the high rate of maternal mortality in the area, she started her work by ensuring institutional deliveries. Though extremely challenging, Vaiijanti was able to convince women of the benefits of institutional deliveries. As compared to 35 home deliveries on an average earlier, today there are none.
Once the community started acknowledging Vaijanti’s efforts to go that extra mile for her community, they started believing in her. Vaijanti realized that to cover a population of nearly 9000 with villages as far as ten kilometers away, she would need a robust team. Deciding to lead by example, she started winning accolades from the higher authorities and also encouraged the Mitanins to perform like her. Soon, Vaijanti and her Mitanin were awarded the best performer in their cadres in Mahasamund.
“There were so many maternal deaths and newborn deaths here earlier. I had to convince them that this was not safe and that I am a trained healthcare worker who will take care of them. I personally started doing everything from the registration of pregnant women to the immunization of their babies. This is how I was slowly able to build their faith in me – just by example. Once they saw other women benefitting, slowly they were convinced”. says Vaijanti
Her efforts did not end here. Vaijanti and the team also worked to ensure that all the children in her area were fully immunized. Today, her area records a very good immunization coverage rate between 99-100 %. Healthcare workers like Vaijanti are the building blocks for a strong and resilient healthcare system. With the expanded package of services under Ayushman Bharat, Vaijanti and her team have their hands full in ensuring that all the services reach the community.
“I told the Mitanins about their incentives which nobody had told them before with clarity. I told them that not only can you receive accolades but also financial support for your families through incentives. I told them if you keep your house clean, it is good for you. Think of your community as your home and you have to do everything to make it clean and good”. says Vaijanti
During the nationwide lockdown, there was a disruption in regular healthcare services. At such a time, Vaijanti and her team’s role became all the more important to ensure that the mothers and newborns continue to receive quality healthcare.
“I have always excelled in whatever I have pursued. When I was taking the job of an ANM, that too in an area like Sukhipali, I knew the challenges that came with it. Even though we are overburdened with COVID-19 duties, I cannot abandon my other duties. Earlier I felt scared but now I am habituated to face any challenge”. said Vaijanti with a smile.
Vijanti’s commitment to her community and dedication to improve maternal and child health outcomes in her community is truly inspirational. Women like her are catalysts and leaders for change.
USAID-NISHTHA has been training ANMs like Vaijanti to be better prepared to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and address the health needs of the communities in general.