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With not even the basic of medical facility, road communication cut-off, a young farmer from Kengjung village shares his ordeal of helplessly watching his wife die at childbirth-amid hope that authorities intervene to save lives in the village
Kengjung | February 5
As the flow of blood became rapid and it did not seem to subside, Hathung, 28, standing by the bedside with a soiled cloth, one of the countless which lay strewn on the floor, watched his wife Keshe drain her life away in helpless despair.
He turned around; saw the same helpless looks in the eye of his relatives who had gathered by the bedside during a stormy evening at Kengjung village in 2015.
August 1, 2015 to be exact, Keshe, who had been down with bouts of fever for days, had just given birth to a baby girl. Complications arose when she started suffering from postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), a leading cause of maternal mortality in rural areas where medical help is hard to come by.
Childbirth is a risky affair in Kengjung village, which is located some 80 kilometers of back breaking road from Noklak town, under Tuensang district.
There is neither a dispensary in the village nor a nurse to assist women giving birth. The situation is aggravated by a cultural taboo, which restricts women from giving assistance during childbirth- if problem arise in the health of the woman giving birth.
The superstition that health complications faced by women during birth would be ‘transmitted’ to those assisting her restricts womenfolk, except for some elderly few, to lend a hand during childbirth.
In such an insurmountable setting, Hathung watched with hopelessness as her wife breathed her last. “I watched her die and I couldn’t do anything,” the simple unforgiving refrain from the grieving farmer, despite knowing it was beyond his human power to save her.
The only flicker of hope had been an ambulance, which was available at Thonokyu, a subdivision- three hours away, Hathung said. Multiple landslides had cut-off the road to Thonokyu. The other option- would have been a seemingly never-ending five-hour drive to Noklak town, if one had access to a vehicle, was also cut-off by landslides.
Every monsoon, from June to October, Kengchung village is completely cut-off from the rest of the world by landslides. It is during this time that the inhabitants become more susceptible to health complication. Even a simple illness can turn life threatening in the absence of medical care.
Though inexperienced in natal care, Hathung had helped deliver their first child without much a difficulty. However, this time, things were different.
“I remember. Keshe had not being feeling well for quite a while. However, we could not procure medicine because we never have enough money. The road was also completely blocked by landslide, even if we could take her for treatment,” Hathung recalled.
There is remorse in the heart of the young farmer. “Only if there had been a dispensary or a nurse…a professional helper in child birth to help us, Keshe may have survived…” Hathung said wistfully. However, these are thoughts, which the young farmer would rather not discuss because it does not give any solace but only anger and more hurt.
“I only wish the government can bring us a dispensary and a medical practitioner here in the village so that lives can be saved and we don’t have to watch our dear ones die every time,” Hathung expressed.
Imti Longchar is a journalist with The Morung Express and had travelled with the team to Kengjung