In my last post, I mentioned that my mother was a Traditional Birth Attendant and that her services were free 24/7. In addition to this, she was also the health care provider for our township. She had been trained at the nearby clinic to supplement the basic training she had received at one organisation years earlier.
In those days, the clinic only opened from 8.00 am – 5.00 pm daily and catered to thousands of people. There was a hospital further away, but one had to hire a car in order to go there after hours. Most of the people around could not afford the fare and so would endure a long night before being taken to the clinic in the morning. The modes of transporting the patients if they were not strong enough to walk? Being carried on someone else’s back, a bicycle, wheelbarrow or if one was able to, a taxi was hired. My mother saw the need in the community and offered to help by running a ‘dispensary’ from home. After her training, she was given various medicines including chloroquine (for malaria), oral rehydration salts, etc.
For me, the best service she provided was to STD patients. My mother did not have STD medications, but the patients would go to her for referrals. The reason was that screening of patients at the clinic was done outside where other patients could hear all the details, and of course patients with a ‘shameful’ sexually transmitted disease did not want others listening in. So, my mother’s patients would just give referral to the nurse doing the screening and no questions would be asked. They would be asked to go into the office where it was private for a proper consultation. I found this an interesting service to provide.