Written by Ciranoush Aird
In February 2016, 7 Australian female health workers from Backpacker Medics traveled to Kerasawara village in Nepal and delivered a health care package to 6 local village women aimed at improving health, education and family planning. Small sessions had been presented during previous trips to the village and were met with enthusiasm, which encouraged a specialty package to be written by a combination of paramedics and midwives over a period of 8 months.
The ongoing situation regarding women’s health in the Kerasawara area has been a Backpacker Medics concern from day one. As an example, the rate of maternal mortality is 43 times greater than in Australia. By introducing specific female health education via a train-the-trainer model (with team members representing four nearby villages), we hoped the package would have a ripple effect- not only improving the health of women and girls, but also their families and the wider community.
The course we delivered was both practical and theoretical, with a focus on improving communication. We aimed to give team members the skills to impart relevant and informed information to other women in the community through verbal skills, focusedpatient questioning techniques and concise, simplified explanations of their new knowledge. Specific health areas covered were anatomy and physiology, puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, safe childbirth, sexual health and holistic/preventative health. A paediatric first aid component was also included in the the program courtesy of of our friends at K’Sparkle (http://ksparkle.org.au/).
The Mountain Designs team in Perth generously supplied each of the team members with a backpack, a uniform and safety equipment which were displayed proudly throughout the week. Volunteer instructors brought several education materials including books, models and a birthing simulator- all of which have been left at the MCHC for the team members to continue their training. Each of the team members were awarded a certificate of recognition, which was displayed proudly after the team performed mock scenarios which demonstrated their new skill set to the whole community.
Overall, the response to the Women’s Health Initiative was overwhelming- in fact, one participant openly wept with gratitude for being included in the team! The memory retention of each member was beyond expectation and though there were initially some cultural boundaries, sharing our own experiences quickly built trust and soon their own stories of personal experiences were being told…with no hesitations whatsoever!
I genuinely believe this program will benefit the people of Kerasawara and feel so very proud to have collaborated with such exceptional people to bring this important issue to the attention of a wider audience. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life to see the positive change in these astounding women over the course of a week. I anticipate great things to come from this wonderful experience and can’t wait to see the product of their hard work and study.
Would you like to help continue the education of the Women’s Health Initiative? Volunteer with Backpacker Medics! Visit: https://backpackermedics.com/volunteering/