TCIHC Urban Tales: Going Beyond the Call of Duty to Serve Urban Poor
Contributors: Umam Farooq and Parul Saxena
The following story is part of a series from The Challenge Initiative for Healthy Cities (TCIHC) called “Urban Tales,” occasional real-life stories of women and girls benefiting from TCIHC’s work supporting local governments to implement evidence-based family planning and adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) solutions.
Dr Anshu Saxena serves as the medical officer in-charge (MOIC) at the Pala Sahibabad Urban Primary Health Center (UPHC) in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh. She became emotional as she recalled the following story recently to the TCIHC team.
A poor woman named Lata had her sixth delivery – her sixth daughter. The condition of the newborn girl was critical. I asked the parents to consult a pediatrician at the earliest. But the newborn’s father refused and reluctantly replied ‘nothing happens to girl child- they don’t die so soon.’ His words sent a chill down my spine. Later, I advised the woman to adopt a family planning method but her clueless eyes said it all. It bothers me to see how some men control decision about family.
While Dr. Anshu never learned the fate of Lata or her infant girl, their story inspired her unflinching commitment to family planning.
Two years back, TCIHC coached our UPHC staff and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) on the high-impact approaches of family planning. I learnt and observed how fixed day static (FDS) /Antral diwas(spacing day) services made it easy for women to avail FP services as they were integrated with outreach services where women often visit for immunization of children. I drew motivation from the increased number of women turning out to avail FP services as I felt I am saving lives of many Lata’s! Seeing women take decision and family planning method of her choice, keeps my spirit high. The coaching model of TCIHC inspired me further as I started coaching ASHAs on creating awareness about family planning and mobilizing the community for FDS/Antral diwas days. At a personal level, I coached ASHAs on conducting street plays on such issues. As a result, many slum women who observed street plays visited the UPHC to avail family planning services. I received appreciation and accolades from the health department and Chief Medical Officer, Aligarh. Now, the health department engages me in health awareness campaigns conducted across Aligarh.