tirsdag 31. mai 2022

India: The hotline that became a lifeline for expectant mothers

Swetanjali Jha's mornings are dictated by the clock. Wake up at 5:00. Get the children ready for school by 6:30. Prepare breakfast and lunch for her family of 11 by 9:30. Then leave for work at 9:45. She'll spend the next eight hours weaving through a cluster of villages in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, checking  on  coughs that might indicate  tuberculosis  and speaking with pregnant women,  and  new mothers in need of baby care advice. The 32-year-old community healthcare worker has no time to linger.  

But,  in April this year,  a phone call from a familiar voice forced Jha to break  from  her busy routine.   "Please come over, I need to talk," the caller requested. "It has to be you."    

On the line was Mamta  Kumari,  whom  Jha had  helped to climb out of a dark  depression during her first full-term pregnancy  in 2018.  Jha made a mental note to visit Kumari when she had a spare moment. She was no longer working for the mental health initiative and had enough else to do. But the calls kept coming and Kumari's pleas grew more frantic  and accusatory, Jha recalls. "You don't have the time for us anymore," the mother of two would start  saying before reverting to supplications for help, the two women told CNN.