Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

‘Ma-Telehealth’ service emerges as blessing for pregnant women

A six-month pregnant woman of Mohongonj upazila in Netrokona district felt sick amid the Covid-19 pandemic when all the hospitals and healthcare centers were busy with coronavirus patients keeping aside their regular services to other patients.

 “I was suffering from cough and skin related diseases during the countrywide lockdown last year when I was pregnant for six months. I and my family members were anxious about my health since all healthcare facilities were virtually shut for other patients except the Covid-affected ones,” Hriday Moni, a resident of Adarshanagar village of Mohongonj upazila, told journalists recently.

At that time, she came to know about the “Ma-Telehealth Center” being run by the Department of Women and Children Affairs, under the supervision of a2i of the Cabinet Division and the ICT Division with the support from the UNDP, to render health services to pregnant and lactating mothers and children.

“I took medical services from the “Ma-Telehealth Center” twice during my pregnancy and recovered following the treatment provided by the center,” said Hriday Moni, wife of a factory worker, Nizamuddin.

She also received health services from the Ma-Telehealth Center when she was suffering from different complications after giving birth to her child.

“Now my health condition is very well. I also availed of services for my new born baby Ishrat Jahan Nadia and she is also fine now,” Hriday Moni said.

Nizamuddin expressed his satisfaction over the a2i’s initiative of delivering the health services to the pregnant and lactating mothers and children, saying, “It has emerged as a blessing for the poor pregnant women in rural areas of the country”.

According to the a2i officials, “Ma-Telehealth Center” is ensuring uninterrupted healthcare services for the pregnant and lactating mothers and children while the platform has already served the people for 370,000 times since June 14, 2020.

Program Director (Maternity Allowance) of the Department of Women Affairs Rubina Ghani said the “Ma-Telehealth” service got popularity in 39 upazilas of seven districts in the country.

A total of 75 specialist physicians are rendering the digital health services to the enlisted pregnant and lactating mothers and children, she said, adding, “The Ma-Telehealth service has emerged as an extraordinary healthcare programme for the families of the general and pregnant mothers in the 39 upazilas”.

The a2i launched the “Ma-Telehealth Center” in April 2020 in view of the health risks of mothers and children during the corona pandemic, Rubina said, adding that the service was primarily launched at Chitalmari of Bagerhat, Mehendiganj of Barisal, Gowainghat of Sylhet, Mohongonj of Netrokona, Thanchi of Bandarban, Gangachara of Rangpur and Godagari upazila of Rajshahi district.

On an average, she said, about 500 mothers and children take the healthcare services from the “Ma-Telehealth Center” daily amid the pandemic situation by dialling 109 and 09666888888, which is playing a vital role in delivering the health services to the poor and general people across the country.

Rehena Begum, a resident of Astamkhando village of Gowainghat upazila in Sylhet, said many poor families of the upazila have been benefited by receiving the health services from the telehealth platform.

Another beneficiary of the “Ma-Telehealth Center” Nilufa Khatun, a resident of Godagari upazila of Rajshahi, said the whole body of her newborn baby had swollen with blisters just after birth.

Then she contacted the doctors through “Ma-Telehealth Center” and received the services that get her child recovered from the disease.

Like Rehena and Nilufa, lactating mother Dola Akter of Rajshahi, Chameli Akter and Mousumi Begum of Barishal received medical services from the digital healthcare facility while many other women and children have been taking the services from the platform regularly.

Program Director Rubina Ghani said the a2i is working to reach the benefits of the healthcare services to doorsteps of the people across the country through the “Ma-Telehealth Center”.

Though the service was initially launched in seven districts, she said, it will be expanded across the country gradually.

Noting that each of 1,045,000 mothers across the country are receiving Taka 800 per month for a three-year period from the first day of their pregnancy under the social safety net programme and apart from this, the enlisted mothers are now being facilitated with the healthcare services through the “Ma-Telehealth Center,” Rubina said.

The a2i, in association with the health services division and the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, is playing a pivotal role in reducing the maternity and child mortality rates, she added.

The modern digital systems and telemedicine services have brought comfort, safety and security to the life of poor pregnant and lactating mothers and children, the official said, adding that the initiative would play an important role in attaining the SDGs.