The centre received 11 national as well as one divisional awards in next 15 years for providing better maternity services including normal deliveries. On 15 October last year, Afsari Khanam was transferred to Lalmonirhat district. Her colleagues at the Gaibandha centre are still continuing with the success Afsari achieved.

Recently, Afsari Khanam talked to this correspondent. She said Gaibandha is an erosion-prone district. She observed poor women in the remote places were deprived of health services. She thought about providing the expectant mothers with normal delivery services.

Between January and August this year, 1,584 mothers delivered normally at the Gaibandha mother and child welfare centre, official records said. In the previous six years, at least 19,911 infants were delivered normally at there: 2,293 in 2020; 3,300 in 2019; 3,293 in 2018; 2,964 in 2017; 3,121 in 2016; and 3,356 in 2015. Meanwhile, only 512 mothers required C-Section during the six years.

Gaibandha civil surgeon AKM Akhtaruzzaman told Prothom Alo that the statistics of seven years were accurate.

Family welfare inspector Dolly Akther said that centre requires two nurses and two assistant nurses more in the workforce.

Related officials said currently 21 staff work at the centre against the approved 13 posts. Among the staff, eight are on deputation. The post of medical officer (clinic) remains vacant since the last officer was transferred. On 12 September, the two remaining medical officers (MCH-FP) got promotion. That means, the two posts are going to be vacant soon.

Besides the normal delivery services, the Gaibandha centre plays significant roles in family planning as well as maternity and child health care. In last one year, the centre took care of 5,322 pregnant mothers, 2,330 neo-natal mothers and 3,444 children.

A recent visit found the centre crowded with people coming for various services. Some of them came for maternity services and some were for child care. Adolescent girls were also being treated. The complex and the rooms were clean.

In the ground floor there were breast feeding facilities, a waiting room and separate wards for general patients and expectant mothers. Normal delivery services are available at the first floor where the operation theatre is also located. The second floor is dedicated for treatment of adolescents.

Farzana Khatun (25) from Hossenpur village of Gaibandha’s Phulchair upazila said she was five months pregnant. She felt very comfortable at the government maternity centre. There was no hassle as in the past.

A resident from Shantiram village of Sundarganj upazila, Lima Begum (30), was also there for maternity service. She said previously C-Section would invariably be advised when labour pains developed. “But the centre provides normal delivery services free of cost. I am happy with this,” she said.

Family planning directorate’s Gaibandha district deputy director Md Saiful Islam told Prothom Alo that higher authorities have been requested to recruit staff to the vacant posts at the Gaibandha mother and child welfare centre.

*The original report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Sadiqur Rahman