SBA SPOTLIGHT: PARBATI ACHARYA
“The happiness you feel after saving a life is inexplicable,” says Parbati Acharya. “You establish such a powerful bond with the mother and her family, that it stays with you forever.”
Parbati is an auxiliary nurse midwife and the only skilled birth attendant at Durchhim Health Post (HP). The 32-year-old handles complicated cases with a calm sense of authority. She works tirelessly to save lives in this remote corner of Khotang, Nepal.
Sometimes, her services are required even after she has completed her shift. Parbati recently worked all night and day to tend to a young woman with prolonged labor, followed by postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). Leveraging all of her experience, and the new skills she has been learning through One Heart World-Wide (OHW) trainings, Parbati was able to use a technique called condom tamponade to manage the PPH, stop the bleeding, and send the young mother home safely with her newborn.
Ever since she arrived here three years ago, Parbati has been working to improve the services offered at Durchhim HP. “The first thing we did, was clean up the place,” she says. “It was buried in shrubs.”
Then, she took the lead in installing a placenta pit. The lack of resources made progress slow. “We had to approach the local government whenever we needed even the most basic equipment,” she remembers. “It was frustrating at times.”
It was a relief when OHW stepped onto the scene. Since starting work in Khotang in 2016, OHW has completely renovated Durchhim HP, providing a complete package of life-saving equipment, and training medical staff and local community members in safe delivery practices.
One of Parbati’s standout contributions has been developing a full-time ambulance service at this health facility. Nepal is a country without a coordinated emergency medical response system, and outside of Kathmandu, there are few options for emergency care. After a series of discussions with the Embassy of India in Nepal, Parbati was able to secure an ambulance vehicle and driver for Durchhim HP. Now, if there are complications or emergencies, a patient can be transported to the nearest referral hospital.
She has also introduced a program to reward women who complete all four antenatal care checkups, and come to the health facility to deliver. After the delivery, Parbati leads female community health volunteers and other women from the village to the home of the new mother. They sing, dance, and bring gifts. Most importantly, they share their experiences with pregnancy and childbirth, and learn from each other about taking care of themselves and their children.
Parbati has a son, Manish, whom she doesn’t get to see much due to her demanding job. But the proudest moment of her life was when he topped the School Leaving Certificate exams. “When I saw his photo in the newspaper, I teared up with happiness,” she says. “I have not been able to spend much time with him given the nature of my job, but he has already made me proud. He wants to be a doctor, and I am sure he will be one day.”