Women supporting women in rural Pakistan
Madam Bibi works in rural Pakistan teaching local women to become village based midwives. This may sound like something routine but let me assure you – this is ground-breaking work!
Up until the recent past, women had babies in the home with only close family members to assist. If there were complications during the birth, the woman would have to travel long distances to get medical help. The risk of mortality – for mother and baby - was high.
Because of your generous gifts this is no longer the case! You are supporting the work of village based midwives. These are local women who using their training and skills to bring babies safely into the world and are making a lasting change in their own communities. Read Madam Bibi's story below
Warmest Greetings to you! My name is Madam Shahida Bibi and I am the Master Trainer in Traditional Birthing at the Community World Service - Asia (CWS-A) Clinic in Shangla, Pakistan. I teach local women to become village-based midwives (VBM). My course takes 3 months to complete, then our midwives start home visits in their villages. Each is responsible for around 30 homes. Once trained, VBMs can perform normal deliveries in the homes of local women. This is a huge benefit to the community; previously there was no birthing aid.
Our women inform their households of particular health concerns like diarrhoea, tuberculosis, malaria, birth spacing, dengue fever, and hepatitis A - and the importance of vaccination. VBMs conduct health checks for pregnant women and can refer them to the clinics. Our midwives are educated to identify high risk pregnancies – like women who have hypertension or have previously had a C-section birth.
Before our program, if a woman had complications during birth she had to travel long distances to get help and the risk of mortality was high. But now, our midwives work in their own communities. They know their women and provide house-tohouse care. When a midwife hears of a new pregnancy they visit and encourage the mother to come to a CWS clinic for antenatal checks. We offer midwife services free to all local women – there is no racial or ethnic discrimination.
Our midwives are so happy when they help their first baby come safely into the world! Our region of Shangla has many births – around 1-2 babies are born every day - so our services are much needed. A new first time mother recently told me “we are very poor and this service has given us hope.”
When we first started the midwife course it took some convincing to get local women to attend. I went from home to home to talk with families. This is a very traditional area and men have to give permission for their wives or daughters to attend training.
I want you to know that the women who train as village-based midwives are very brave. They are challenging age-old conventions in taking on this role. I applaud their husbands and fathers who are breaking with tradition. They are supporting their women within the community.
- Madam Shahida Bibi
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In many parts of rural Pakistan, communities are unable to access basic health services due to issues of culture, cost, distance and limited government investment. This results in increased risks for family health, particularly for pregnant women and young children.
Thanks to your ongoing generosity, Act for Peace can support rural health centres run by Community World Service - Asia in Shangla district, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northern Pakistan.
Our partner CWS-A is one of the few aid organisations operating in the area. It provides experienced doctors, nurses and health clinic staff, and delivers essential medicines, health awareness training, consultations and treatment services for thousands of patients. The employment of female doctors and health staff is critical in encouraging women to attend the clinics and receive health services at the village level. The health workers promote a shift in awareness about why health care and hygiene are important. Families that come into the health centres are encouraged to vaccinate their children and women receive the pre- and post-natal healthcare they need.
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