Though she is turning old, health worker Kaushalya is showing a ray of hope to women in one of the remotest villages of Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh. She has been propagating institutional deliveries and providing health services like intrauterine contraceptive device and other contraceptive methods for the last 31 years.
The 58-year-old is posted at the Kalsuin health sub-centre which lies some 450 km away from the state capital Shimla, for the last 28 years.
“It’s only the self-motivation and my inner spirit that drive me towards someone who’s in labour and needs my help. I didn’t mind working odd hours and in hostile weather. I love to provide 24-hour maternal healthcare facilities,” Kaushalya told IANS.
Over the course of time, she has performed over 3,000 deliveries and procedures related to it. Fortunately, she hasn’t seen a single case of maternal or child mortality or foetus abortion. Still, she faces some cases related to female foeticide and bias against the female child.
She has always been active in voicing her thoughts on promoting female reproductive health in the area that is mainly dominated by small farmers. Her efforts paid off after the government designated Kalsuin sub-centre in the Churi block as the only “delivery point” in the state.
The sub-centre has five beds, a labour room, and a baby-care room. It also has a provision of one male and one female health worker each.
According to her, in the past one decade, she has conducted over 2,500 institutional deliveries and 257 intrauterine contraceptive device insertions at the Kalsuin centre, which caters to 18 villages with a population of around 2,000.
There is no provision of a gynaecologist or paediatrician and most of the time, she is the only health worker posted there.
Kaushalya, who is planning to retire in December, has handled both antenatal and postnatal cases along with many emergencies.
She had joined the state health services as a female health worker at Dalli in Chamba district’s Bharmour block in 1985. She was transferred to Kalsuin three years later. At that time, the health centre was functioning from the panchayat building and lacked proper infrastructure. Her immense effort helped the health centre to shift to a new building equipped with proper facilities.
From 1995, she began midwifery by facilitating deliveries at homes. Her contribution was recognised by the state government by conferring on her a district-level award in 2010 and a state level in 2011.