Kamala worked as an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) in a small rural area in India. Across India, ANMs provide essential maternal health services at the village level, connecting women with health services. Their work covers maternal and child health along with family planning services, health and nutrition education, efforts for maintaining environmental sanitation, immunisation for the control of communicable diseases, treatment of minor injuries, and first aid in emergencies and disasters. In remote areas, such as hilly and tribal areas where transportation is poor, ANMs often assist with home births.

In countries like India, where serious shortages of skilled medical professionals mean that access to lifesaving healthcare services is limited, ANMs have contributed to reducing maternal mortality.

On 3rd April 2018, Kamala gave birth to a healthy baby girl by caesarean section in a small private hospital.

What started as a day of joy and hope, changed rapidly a few hours later.

Kamala’s family noticed she was bleeding heavily. She was rushed back to the operating theatre where the doctors performed hysterectomy surgery to save her life. Having lost a lot of blood, Kamala’s family were told that she required an urgent blood transfusion. As the hospital had no supply of blood, Kamala’s family rushed to purchase five units of blood at a higher-level healthcare facility.

Kamala lost so much blood that despite the transfusions, efforts to save her life failed. She passed away late that evening.

Kamala’s death will leave a permanent impact on her family. After a short stay in hospital, she would have been expected to return to work as an ANM, providing for her family, as her husband had been unable to find work despite his university degree in education. Without her, their baby girl is being brought up by her husband’s sister and 65-year-old mother. Every day, the family worries about how they will survive. Her community also lost the skill and support of an important healthcare provider, which will impact on the lives of many more women and children.

Quality medicines could have prevented Kamala’s fatal haemorrhage and saved her life and in turn that of many other women dependent on the work of ANMs.

 

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Concept Foundation is an NGO working with governments, manufacturers and global health stakeholders to improve access to quality reproductive and maternal health medicines.

Concept Foundation is supported by funding from MSD, through MSD for Mothers, a 10-year $500 million initiative to help create a world where no woman dies giving life. MSD for Mothers is an initiative of Merck and Co. Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA.