The Iron Lady of Manghopir – Lady Health Supervisor in Karachi West Enhances Skills Gained over 25-Year Career with TCI Coaching

May 3, 2024

Contributed by Aiman Haroon and Aziza Burfat

The Iron Lady of Manghopir – Lady Health Supervisor in Karachi West Enhances Skills Gained over 25-Year Career with TCI Coaching

May 3, 2024

Contributed by Aiman Haroon and Aziza Burfat

Farzana Baloch, affectionately known as “Farzana Baji,” educates women on healthcare options in Manghopir.

The town of Manghopir holds profound religious significance for believers in Karachi and across Pakistan. Nestled in the West district of Karachi in Sindh province, Manghopir is renowned for its shrines, natural hot springs, and crocodile sanctuary. People from various corners of the country make pilgrimages to Manghopir to pay their respects to the Sufis who once inhabited this land and the ancient crocodiles that have roamed here for over seven centuries. Among the residents of this sacred town is Farzana Baloch, affectionately known as “Farzana Baji,” a much-respected Lady Health Supervisor who has received coaching from The Challenge Initiative (TCI).

Farzana’s journey in Manghopir began as a newlywed. Through her pregnancy and delivery, she encountered the challenges of inequitable access to health services and insufficient infrastructure firsthand. Determined to make a difference for herself and women in her community, Farzana embarked on a mission to address a lack of accessible healthcare.

Twenty-five years ago, Farzana jumped at an opportunity to become a Lady Health Worker (LHW) when the District Health Management team expanded its LHW program. She joined the team for one of the primary health centers in the area and began her career of dedicated service to the community. She was often seen in the community carrying a baby at the same time she had a bag of supplies on her shoulder. Sharing her personal experiences of informed decisions made with her husband’s help, Farzana empowered women to explore healthcare options with family support.

Farzana’s unwavering commitment earned her the title of “Farzana Baji,” as women in the community began to understand their healthcare needs and access services with her help. However, challenges persisted, particularly in the realm of family planning. Due to the densely populated nature of Manghopir, Farzana and her small team needed to work tirelessly to improve the health landscape, dispelling myths and misconceptions surrounding family planning.

Farzana eventually became a Lady Health Supervisor, overseeing multiple health facilities in the area. Presently, she supervises three of TCI’s key facilities: Rural Health Center Manghopir, Sindh Government Dispensary Manghopir, and Gul Mohammad Dispensary. These primary health centers were situated in more remote areas and thus historically faced low clientele and regular shortages of essential commodities and medicines.

With the implementation of programs like TCI in Karachi West, healthcare services have shown significant improvement. Farzana and her team of 45 Lady Health Workers received TCI coaching in communication and counseling skills for family planning. They also improved their demand generation technique and boosted their ability to educate women in making informed choices about contraceptives.

Through initiatives like regular Family Health Days and satellite camps in remote areas, the demand for family planning services has seen a remarkable surge in the region. Patient volume at the three TCI facilities grew to more than 14,000 outpatient clients in 2023. Of those, 1,400 women took advantage of family planning services, compared with just 300 in 2022. The proactive efforts of Lady Health Workers, who brought clients to clinics themselves in rickshaws or private transportation, paid off and showcased heightened local ownership and motivation.

Thanks to Farzana’s advocacy and TCI’s support, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) have now been introduced in the area and the District Health Management team brought in Dr. Huma Tabassum, a Woman Medical Officer and family planning focal person from District West, to provide LARCs to women at RHC Manghopir. Dr. Tabassum is also providing LARC training to build in-house capacity, enhancing cross-facility learning and replicable coaching. Since November 2023, these health facilities have provided implants to 44 women.

Today, Farzana stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration in Manghopir, celebrated for her successful efforts to bridge the gap between family planning services and women in her community. She appreciates the positive impact that has occurred in Manghopir since TCI’s engagement began with Karachi West in September 2022.

Recent News

Improving Family Planning Programming in Grand Lomé, Togo, with a Thorough Review of the Data

Improving Family Planning Programming in Grand Lomé, Togo, with a Thorough Review of the Data

TCI Supports Rawalpindi to Dispel Family Planning Myths and Misconceptions Among Men in Pakistan

TCI Supports Rawalpindi to Dispel Family Planning Myths and Misconceptions Among Men in Pakistan

Youth-Focused Interventions in Three Uganda Districts ‘Boost’ Family Planning Outcomes for Older Women Too

Youth-Focused Interventions in Three Uganda Districts ‘Boost’ Family Planning Outcomes for Older Women Too

TCI’s PPFP Training and Mentorship Strengthens Capacity and Healthcare Systems in 7 Kenya Counties

TCI’s PPFP Training and Mentorship Strengthens Capacity and Healthcare Systems in 7 Kenya Counties

GHSP Article Assesses TCI’s Impact on Improving Quality of Adolescent and Youth-Friendly Health Services in  Benin

GHSP Article Assesses TCI’s Impact on Improving Quality of Adolescent and Youth-Friendly Health Services in Benin