The villages of Jodhgaun and Bhadgaun in Jumla, Nepal are tucked away into the mountains, located hours away from the nearest hospital. Women living here have traditionally given birth attended only by other women in the village, confined to a cow shed and using anything they can find to cut the umbilical cord, even rusty knives. It is not surprising that maternal mortality is a big problem here, it has the highest rates of anywhere in Nepal, higher than the national average of 239 deaths per 100,000 births.
But this is all changing with the construction of the Miteri Birthing Center and the arrival of Sharada Rokaya, an auxiliary nurse midwife. Auxiliary nurse midwives are the link between rural communities like Jodhgaun and Bhadgaun and health services. Sharada travels from health post to health post, walking through the mountains to check on her patients and to deliver babies.
Despite the training and skills that Sharada brings to these villages, the lack of electricity at the birthing center was a real challenge for her work. So, in June 2019, GRID's International Program installed a solar system at the birthing center, providing a reliable source of clean energy from the sun. Now, Sharada is able to use electricity to sterilize all the medical tools, refrigerate vaccines, and turn on lights when she has patients at night.
"Amidst every challenge we need to provide service 24 hours a day. It was really difficult at night but now they have installed solar so it will be very easy. Many thanks."
In addition to the maternal and child healthcare that Sharada provides, she also performs normal check-ups, provides medical services for common diseases and physical injuries, and counsels patients on sexual and reproductive health. The villages will see improved health outcomes from Sharada's work, hopefully reducing their maternal mortality rates as well as lowering early pregnancies and even improving school attendance and performance for children and adolescents.
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To learn more about Sharada's work and the solar installation on the birthing center, check out the video below: