As told to Navroza Sher Ali, Forum for Safe Motherhood, Pakistan, an affiliate of the global White Ribbon Alliance, by a Community Midwife in Pakistan*.
In the old days, I used to take public transport to travel to and from the Rural Health Centre where I work as a Community Midwife in Nabisar, in Pakistan’s Sindh Province. However, since Pakistan’s lockdown to curb the pandemic’s death toll, all public transport has been closed.
I now must arrange my own transport every day, for both going to the facility as well as for coming back home. Of course, because of COVID-19, the influx of patients into my health facility has been reduced, as women would rather stay home, alone, than risk contracting COVID-19 while being cared for by a trained health professional.
Those who do visit approach the staff with fear, afraid of getting infected from us. In fact, we, the staff, are also scared of contracting the virus from one of the visiting patients. The reality is that we are only using gloves. We do not have proper masks to protect from the virus. Sometimes, when we run out of sanitizers and file a demand for it, it takes 2-3 days for it to arrive. The authorities are not doing enough to protect us, and the staff are not able to protect our patients or ourselves the way we need to. How can we protect others unless we are protected ourselves?
Being a Community Midwife, I realize that it is my responsibility to help others during the pandemic, but I am very afraid that I will get infected while performing my duty as I have not been provided with the necessary protective gear. This fear remains paramount in my mind while I am providing services at the facility, influencing my every interaction with all my patients. It is not safe like it was before, neither for the patients nor for us.