Ante- and post-natal care ensure the health of Rohingya mothers and children
Health workers at UNICEF primary healthcare centre work round the clock to give Rohingya children the best start in life
Mohsina, a Rohingya refugee living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar, was 20 years old when she began expecting her first child. She visited a UNICEF-supported health post near her home when she felt dizzy and unwell. She had not been menstruating for a couple of months, so she knew something was amiss. After a quick examination, the health workers informed Mohsina of her pregnancy.
When Mohsina returned home with the news, her family requested her to stay at home thereafter. The community elders held superstitious beliefs that pregnant women should stay at home, lest they invite supernatural curses on the family.
The UNICEF 24/7 primary healthcare centre (PHC) supported by KSRelief near her home had community health workers ready to counter such traditional myths. They began visiting Mohsina’s family.
After some persuasion and the help of the Majhi, the community leader, the health workers managed to convince Mohsina’s family to allow her regular checkups at the PHC.
The health workers brought her to the PHC for her first checkup and by the third checkup, Mohsina came on her own. As Mohsina’s pregnancy progressed, her health was consistently monitored and she received counselling on what to expect at every step of the way.
The morning she went into labour, Mohsina’s mother-in-law wanted the baby to be delivered at home. She was not allowing Mohsina to go to the PHC, claiming that it was a breach of privacy. As labour pain became increasingly intensive for Mohsina, a community health worker from the PHC convinced the family once again of the facility’s safety. Fighting rumours and misinformation is a daily challenge for health workers in ensuring the health and safety of Rohingya refugees.
In the end, the family relented and Mohsina was brought to the PHC for the delivery. The doctor and the midwife examined her thoroughly. She was asked to take deep breaths and encouraged to exercise. The midwife provided emotional support, as Mohsina’s labour pain intensified. She finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy. However, Mohsina had lost a substantial amount of blood during her labour. Her blood pressure had dropped. The doctor and midwife medicated her and kept her under observation for 24 hours. After some time, Mohsina’s bleeding stopped. Mohsina’s baby was also provided essential with newborn care services in the same facility.
After some much-needed rest, Mohsina was gifted a ‘mama kit’, a package of amenities useful for new mothers, including mosquito nets, special soap, towels, sheets, socks and hats for newborns and other conveniences. She was also advised to continue her regular visits to the PHC for the next two months. These visits would serve to monitor the newborn’s health and provide Mohsina with counselling on best feeding practices and immunization.
“If I had not been at the [PHC] I might not have lived through my child’s birth,” shares Mohsina, “I was so scared. I am very grateful to my sisters from the PHC and the doctors for keeping us both safe and alive. They have been my guardian angels.”
UNICEF wishes to express sincere gratitude to the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KS Relief) for their continued support to health and safety of the Rohingya refugees and their host communities.