• Thursday, Aug 13, 2020
  • Last Update : 10:58 pm

Newborn, maternal health at risk in flood-affected Kurigram

  • Published at 04:43 pm August 2nd, 2020
Locals, whose houses were left inundated, wade through knee-deep floodwater in Kurigram <strong>Dhaka Tribune</strong>
File photo: Locals, whose houses were left inundated, wade through knee-deep floodwater in Kurigram Dhaka Tribune

According to last month’s data from the district's health and family planning office, Kurigram have 15,870 pregnant women most of whom are from the flood affected region

Pregnant women and newborn children currently living on the embankments or on the roads in the flood affected regions of Kurigram are deprived of basic health care.

Nasrin Begum was one of such women, who on July 26, gave birth to a girl child on an embankment. She got back to her home on Friday as floodwaters receded from her house.

When this correspondent talked to her on July 24, she said she had been living on the Putimari Kajaldanga embankment in Thanahat union of Chilmari upazila for the past two weeks as her house had been flooded.

After Nasrin's childbirth, this correspondent again talked to her over the phone. She said that when she was in labour pain, it was very troublesome for her as she couldn't go to any health centres due to water being everywhere.

When Nasrin asked a midwife -- trained by a non-governmental organization -- for help, the midwife asked for Tk3,000 for her services. The newborn was suffering from breathing problems just after birth but has now recovered.

"After the birth of my child on the embankment, I have returned home. Although the water receded, the house yard was muddy and the area was filled with a foul smell. I caught a cold and am not feeling too well at the moment," said Nasrin on Friday.

She added that her husband is currently unemployed and they owe Tk2000 to the midwife who helped her during childbirth.

Amina Begum, another pregnant woman residing at the embankment appears to be a teenager and had been suffering from lack of nutrition.

Locals in the embankment areas claimed that they are not aware if any medical teams have been working near them and its like as if their women and children were forgotten by the health authorities.

According to last month’s data from the district's health and family planning office, Kurigram have 15,870 pregnant women most of whom are from the flood affected region.

People who took refuge on the embankments said the situation of pregnant women and others in the postpartum stage are quite similar to Nasrin and Amina.  

They said they are rarely seeing any health workers after the Covid-19 pandemic began and have been taking medicines as per the advice from local pharmacies. Also it seems that they do not have the capability to make complaints and demands from the  health authorities.

However, the district's health department has claimed 85 field based medical teams have been working in the district.

In Ulipur upazila, there are around 2,900 pregnant women. Flood affected Begumgonj, Shahebiar Alga, Hatia and Buraburi unions of the upazila have on average 200 pregnant women each whose maternal health is under risk.

Locals in these areas could not avail treatment form health centres even if they wanted to due to the waterlogged situation and road communication troubles.

Chilmari Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Shahidul Islam said they have 954 pregnant woman in the upazila.

"Health workers could not reach to many spots due to the communication (road) being terminated. But we have mobile numbers of all the pregnant women and they (pregnant women) have mobile numbers of respective health staff in the areas," Shahidul said adding that medical advice is being provided if they are contacted.

Kurigram Civil Surgeon Dr Habibur Rahman said: “Pregnant women can reach the delivery stage any time. We have limitations regarding communication but we have been trying."

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