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Midwives Boost Care, Provide Hope For Moms 

April 23, 2019
The Chikontup Community Clinic is located in the small, beautiful village of Chikontup in the district of Netrakona in Bangladesh. The closest medical facility to the village is the Kalmakanda Upazilla Health Complex, approximately seven kilometers away. This may sound deceptively close and convenient  to those of us accustomed to travel by car or motor vehicle, but in reality it is an extremely difficult route to travel even during the dry season. To further complicate the journey, the route to the facility is only traversable by  foot or on a bike (which most of the rural residents cannot afford). The village itself touches the border of Bangladesh with India and many households in the district, particularly the remote ones, do not have access to electricity. 
Photo of a Child Safe Birth Attendant in Bangladesh using a solar Luke Light to care for a mother
​​​​​​​(Photo provided by the UNFPA Bangladesh)
There are two Child Safe Birth Attendants (CSBA) present at the clinic who travel by foot from their homes. Last year both of them received Unite to Light solar-powered Luke Lights through the Bangladesh Midwifery Society and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). One of them, Elizabeth Ghagra, the senior most CSBA of Netrakona, shared many experiences of her time on duty. This is her story of how that solar light has helped her on the job. 
Elizabeth has actively delivered close to 4,000 babies since her CSBA training in 2013. A woman of discipline, she said that she routinely charges her solar light in the sun and keeps it with her at all times. When we spoke with her, she mentioned that the electricity had been intermittently going off and on in the community clinic for the past three days, re-emphasizing the importance of keeping the Luke Light with her at all times. If electricity is only available sporadically, then a back up option becomes a necessity.

Elizabeth recounted several experiences where the solar light proved to be a crucial help in birth delivery situations. In one such instance, she had to travel at night to the small village of Jagirpara, about three kilometers away from the clinic. This village is absolutely devoid of electricity and the locals depend on kerosene lamps for light. 

With only her solar light in hand, she scurried along the wet, uneven village path for 45 minutes seeking to assist a woman in need. Upon arrival, she found that the family did not even have the means to afford a kerosene lamp and the woman in labour was in desperate need of attention. She used the solar light to carefully attend to the woman. Within a short time, a healthy newborn baby was delivered to the new parents; joyous and  with tears in their eyes. They gave their heartfelt appreciation to Elizabeth for her critical and timely help and said how they would be forever indebted to her. 

“The solar light has become one of the most important tools...in my bag”, said Elizabeth. It is a tool that gives her confidence knowing she can respond at any time, day or night, and it has significantly helped in times where light sources are scarce or electricity is non-existent. This woman’s story shows how a small tool can have a substantial impact in providing much needed maternal and newborn care in rural areas of Bangladesh. It is also a testament to the skill and care of Elizabeth and the other Child Safe Birth Attendants in Bangladesh.  Their tireless efforts are saving lives.

Below you see a photo of Elizabeth, as well as the roads she travels and the clinic where she works. 
(Photos provided by UNFPA Bangladesh)
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