Laxmi and Sadho Purty of Jilingburu village, Jharkhand, were overjoyed to welcome their first baby into the world. To help Laxmi through her first pregnancy, MANSI-trained Sahiyya Summi registered her at a local health center and visited their home regularly. Thanks to this relationship, Summi was able to convince the family that the delivery should occur in the sterilized environment of a hospital. On January 2nd, Laxmi gave birth to a baby girl at Sadar Hospital. The baby was underweight and immediately classified as “high-risk”. Summi stayed with Laxmi throughout the delivery, and guided her on the special care necessary for high-risk newborns, including temperature control and nutrition.
A few weeks later, one of Laxmi’s relatives called Summi, informing her that the baby seemed ill. When Summi reached their home, the baby was breathing rapidly and her chest was concaving. From her MANSI training, Summi recognized the signs of pneumonia and followed a protocol designed to keep the baby stable until they could reach a hospital. However, Laxmi and her family were uncomfortable with the idea of going to the hospital, and wanted to try herbal remedies instead. Laxmi herself was following the instructions of a local medicine man and fasting, which made her too weak to take the baby to the hospital.
With hospital care not an option and the baby’s situation worsening, Sahiyya Summi thought quickly and landed on an alternate remedy: Cotrimoxazole syrup, an easily available bacteria-killer. As trained, Summi made sure she had the family’s full consent before administering the syrup to the baby, but thanks to her compassion and knowledge, she also had their trust. She continued to visit the family daily, completing the required five-day dosage. After a few anxious days, the baby began to improve, breathing normally and feeding – a huge relief to the family, and to Summi.
Although MANSI training encourages hospital visits when necessary, it also gives Sahiyyas the knowledge and ability to provide care in the home, working to improve the family’s comfort level, when the hospital is too far or difficult to reach in time. This creates trust in the community, and Sahiyyas are able to further educate the village’s mothers and families about safe health practices, resulting in a 19.8% decrease in the neonatal mortality rate.
“The MANSI training has really helped us a lot – it has taught us to identify and manage illnesses, and enabled us to save so many lives”- Sahiyya Summi
MANSI operates in a public-private partnership with Tata Steel, SEARCH (Society for Education Action and Research in Community Health), and the Government of Jharkhand.