Digital tools raise awareness about maternal health in Nepal

Sanjana Shrestha
Posted May 27, 2014 from Nepal
Dol Kumari - Nepali woman treated for uterine prolapse
Dol Kumari - Nepali woman treated for uterine prolapse
Dol Kumari - Nepali woman treated for uterine prolapse (1/1)

Dol Kumari was born in Nepal, married at age nine, and a mother of two by sixteen. After childbirth, she suffered from uterine prolapse—a painful but preventable condition in which the uterus falls out of alignment. Her condition made walking, household chores, and even sitting extremely painful. Despite her constant pain, she was ashamed of her condition because she didn’t understand it, and kept it a secret for 25 years.

In Dol’s rural village of Jhuwani, Nepal, over 60% of mothers suffer from uterine prolapse, and 80% of women never visit a hospital during pregnancy.

To address this problem, the local community library and resource center (READ Center) created a multimedia program called “My Digital Friend for My Healthy Life,” which aims to raise awareness about and improve access to appropriate healthcare for pregnant women using digital tools.

As part of the program, the Center recorded 40 audio programs and 5 videos to raise awareness on maternal health and uterine prolapse. Health outreach workers and social mobilizers then shared the videos with women in the local community by playing them via radio, mobile phone or laptops.

Once women gained awareness about these issues and felt comfortable coming forward, the READ Center provided them with regular health checkups, and a gynecology health camp.

In just five months, 87 women had health check-ups and met with gynecologists. Of those women, 12 cases of uterine prolapse were identified and treated through free surgery – including Dol.

“I am feeling good after [the] operation. I am relieved of the burden that I have been carrying for 25 years,” Dol said.

Not surprisingly, Dol has also been educating her neighbors and other women about uterine prolapse and suggests that they visit the hospital regularly.

As the Nepal Country Director for the non-profit organization READ Global, I see that this is the beauty of digital, community-based programs — when one person benefits from a service or program, they want to pay it forward. And digital tools allow for that impact to multiply exponentially.

We have the potential to bring this kind of awareness and empowerment to hundreds and even thousands of women across Nepal who suffer from uterine prolapse and lack access to basic health care and knowledge. One of the most simple, effective, and far-reaching ways to spread this message in rural communities is by using digital tools like mobile phones, laptops, and community radio.

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Comments 7

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Kirthi
May 27, 2014
May 27, 2014

Very inspiring thoughts there, Sanjana! It makes me think very deeply of how significant our role can be in making women empowered citizens through the rubric of digital media!

Kasindi bulambo
Jun 07, 2014
Jun 07, 2014

ma chère je comprends que vous avez beaucoup souffert avec cette maladie, seulement parceque vous étiez sous informé. mais Dieu merci parceque vous avez decouvert ce centre qui vous a aidé. et félicitation car vous continuez à sensibiliser d'autres femmes. ma chère, quand il y a une chose qui ne va pas, nous devons toujours denoncé.

erincriley
Jun 08, 2014
Jun 08, 2014

Hi Sanjana,

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Your post was very well written! Like you, I study and write about issues related to maternal and child health. I look forward to your future posts!

Mary S
Jun 14, 2014
Jun 14, 2014

Hi Sanjana

Thanks for telling us about this training programme. No woman should be ashamed or afraid to seek treatment, and it is great to read how successful you have been at raising awareness.

Are you sharing the training material with other organisations across Nepal who are working on similar issues?

Coincidentally I was reading an article on the Al Jazeera website a couple of days ago about this issue - http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/6/9/uterine-prolapsethehidden... - and I can see it is a huge problem in your country that leads to much suffering. That suggests it can be caused by too much work, or too many pregnancies in a short period of time, so are you or other organisations also working to change men's attitudes to women as that will have an important role in prevention?

Mary

Barbara Alago
Jun 19, 2014
Jun 19, 2014

Hi Sanjana,

Thanks a lot for writing this story. I work in a Library, and it pleases me to no end to know that libraries are moving from being a store of knowledge to being more proactive to help people in the communities they serve. There is a lot of information in libraries, some of the people in the communities are not aware of what is stored there. Through the use of digital media, mobile phones, laptops and community radio's this information can be shared and knowledge gained. Am also happy to know that Dol is sharing her experience with other women, in this way more people will benefit. Is there a way that this material can be shared so that other women in the world can be helped?

Keep sharing, thanks

Barbara

Yvette Warren
Apr 27, 2015
Apr 27, 2015

Dear Sanjana, I am sorry for the tragedy transpiring in your country. I hope you are safe and well.

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