Ahilya Devi, a septuagenarian, is the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife from Jharkhand. She currently looks after the 14 sub-health centres in different villages while according to health ministry guidelines one auxiliary nurse midwife is supposed to look after 8. Apart from being over-worked, Ahilya also faces problems because there are no provisions for electricity or water at her centre. These not only hamper her ability to provide for those who come for medical attention but also put the lives of mothers and children at risk.
Ahilya, who has now verbally complained at every Block Level meeting every time a senior official drops by, says:
“We used to have rechargeable emergency lights, but those are broken. [If the lights go at night], we have to use candles and torches. How can we put stitches in this light?”
Her duties involve looking after the pregnant women and women with new born babies– giving them nutrients, vaccinations, performing deliveries and so on.
Despite Ahilya’s efforts, it’s the children and mothers who suffer.