ENRICH, for safe motherhood

Rural Bangladesh has been home to many clichéd practices and superstitions. While some of them seem ridiculous, many are medically detrimental to those who still practice them. One such village is Ghoshalkandi under Khalia Union of Rajoir upazila in Madaripur. Bithi Begum of the village was pregnant. Her in-laws believed that if she ate less nutritious food, the child in her womb would gain less weight, and thus Bithi would face fewer complications during childbirth. That belief being practiced, Bithi soon started feeling weak and unwell. The in-laws found nothing wrong with that and ignored her condition.

Days and weeks went by like this. Thankfully, the Union was under the coverage of ENRICH, a holistic development programme of PKSF. One day, the Enrich Health Assistant went to her house as part of her regular doorstep service and noticed Bithi’s condition. She found that Bithi was anaemic and severely underweight. She advised that Bithi take more nutritious and iron-rich food and visit the ENRICH Satellite Clinic for a check-up. Despite the initial refusal, the in-laws took Bithi to the Satellite Clinic where an MBBS doctor ran various tests and advised that she take healthy food rich in iron, zinc, and folic acid. The doctor also recommended that they take necessary preparations to take Bithi to a hospital for safe childbirth.

Bithi kept visiting the Satellite Clinic regularly for follow-ups. However, when her labour started, her family chose to go for traditional childbirth, seemingly putting her life and the life of the child at risk. When the Enrich Health Assistant heard this, she immediately intervened and managed to convince Bithi’s husband and in-laws to take her to a hospital without delay. There, under the care of expert doctors, Bithi gave birth to a son. Both the mother and the new-born were well and healthy.

Beaming with happiness as she holds her grandchild in her arms, Bithi’s mother-in-law said, “I must thank ENRICH officials for removing the wrong notions I had about pregnancy and childbirth. It is largely for the ENRICH people that I have got a healthy grandson and that my daughter-in-law is in good health.”