Arian Rustemi
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MPH candidate at Boston University School of Public Health, concentrating in Maternal & Child Health and International Health.
A Kit for Life: Ensuring safe deliveries for women living in the slums of Delhi
In January of 2012, I will spend a few weeks in India working with Asha, a non-profit organization that serves over 50 slum colonies of Delhi. More specifically, I will be involved with their Maternal Health Programme. The objective of Asha's Maternal Health Programme is to increase awareness of and access to quality maternal healthcare services, and it's main focus is to encourage expectant mothers in the slum colonies to seek skilled care during the antenatal, natal and postnatal period and provide facilities for the same. The programme ensures that throughout pregnancy and puerperium the mother has good health and that every pregnancy culminates in a healthy mother and a healthy baby. Asha has trained women from the slum communities as Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) who have now become primary health promoters and healthcare providers in the slums. They provide antenatal, natal and postnatal care and support to mothers and give them nutritional supplements, medications and appropriate counseling in various aspects of safe motherhood and care of newborn. The CHVs make regular antenatal check visits to the expectant mother’s house, do thorough general and abdominal examination and counsel women on personal hygiene, nutrition and breastfeeding. These visits include regular checking of blood pressure, signs of anaemia and swelling in the feet as well as examinations to check the position, growth and heart rate of the baby. During their antenatal visits, pregnant women receive a birth kit which allows for a clean and safe delivery. Each kit contains gauze pads, antiseptic solution, clamp cord, gloves, blade, plastic sheet, cotton wool, Gynae pads and a razor. The contents of these kits are all sterilized to reduce the risk of neonatal infections, especially tetanus. At the clinics, expectant mothers are encouraged to register early and have a minimum of 3 antenatal checks with 2 doses of tetanus toxoid injections and iron/folic acid supplements. The mothers are also encouraged to undergo basic investigations to ensure timely intervention in case of pregnancy complications. Asha ensures safe delivery at home for healthy women at low risk for complications through trained birth attendants (midwives trained by Asha) who are qualified, skilled and experienced caregivers from the slum community and have a good system in place for transfer to a hospital when necessary. CHVs and staff carry out postnatal visits within 24 hours of delivery to monitor the health of the mothers and their newborns. Early breast-feeding is encouraged and newborns weighed. CHVs and staff do regular postnatal check visits for the next seven days. --- Asha has asked me to raise funds in order to purchase 100 birth kits. For just US$7.50, you can provide a woman living in a Delhi slum with a birth kit that protects her health and ensures the safe delivery of her child. Challenge yourself. Skip your morning Starbucks stop once a week. Pass on that movie this weekend. Save your coins for a week. Ladies, give yourself a manicure instead of going to a salon. Fellas, skip that last drink on a Saturday night. Your small sacrifice and donation can go a long way in helping to save the lives of a mother and child. For more information on Asha, please visit: [To those in Boston and NYC, I will be holding fundraisers during the fall to raise money for my trip. Keep checking Twitter for updates!] Thank you and all the best, Arian Rustemi
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