Saturday, June 6, 2020 | News

‘Standing tall’ in the midst of a pandemic

Health workers across India whose pre-pandemic work revolved around providing reproductive health are still working to keep those services available whenever possible. Many are also stepping up to provide COVID-related services as well—even when it means putting their personal lives on hold. Here are three workers making this above-and-beyond effort:

Hilda Lakra

Hilda Lakra, an auxiliary nurse midwife trained in comprehensive contraceptive care by the Ipas Development Foundation (IDF), wants to ensure that women continue to get contraceptive services during the pandemic. She had planned to get married on May 1, but postponed her wedding and has been staying in the staff quarters of a community health center in Jharkhand. She’s also been providing health services at shelter homes where hundreds of migrants are quarantined and assessed for symptoms of COVID-19.

Irani Bora Rajkhowa is affiliated with IDF’s program for young women in Assam. She is well-acquainted with the stigma surround abortion care and now is fighting against COVID stigma. When a family in Sonari village returned from a visit to Mumbai, residents were panicked, fearing that the family might be spreading the virus. She worked to educate villagers about the virus and to get COVID tests for the family (which were negative). She is now working to track and monitor people with a travel history, getting those with symptoms to testing centers—and she’s still supervising community health workers who assist with home deliveries of essential contraceptives.

Irani Bora Rajkhowa
Dr. Radhey Shyam Dautaniya

Dr. Radhey Shyam Dautaniya is an IDF-trained abortion provider, but has now been called upon to work fulltime to conduct home screenings for COVID-19 in Jaipur, Rajasthan, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. He married only months ago, but because his work now exposes him to a lot of people, his wife is staying with her parents as he works round-the-clock to provide the vital screenings.

These health workers are standing tall in the midst of the pandemic,” says Vinoj Manning, chief executive officer of IDF.  “We are inspired by their selfless work to fight COVID-19.”