New Delhi: Pregnant women in the country, be it from the rural or urban regions, are facing the brunt of the coronavirus-induced challenges. Poor and marginalised women have been impacted the most. Prevalent lockdown rules, closure of private facilities, lack of mobility, and disruption in supply chain have led to limited access to healthcare for them.

Pregnant women seeking doctors’ supervision are unable to go to gynaecologists or health facilities due to restrictions of the lockdown. Although lockdown 3.0 has brought some relaxations across the less-infected zones, scattered health facilities continue to hit them by a huge extent across the country.

With a view to ensure that the most up-to-date and evidence-based information on COVID-19 and pregnancy/childbirth is available to frontline workers, grassroots agencies, women and communities, Surakshit Matritva Gathbandhan (SuMa-Rajasthan) in partnership with the White Ribbon Alliance India (WRAI) has initiated a country-wide campaign. It is being coordinated by CHETNA, an Ahmedabad-based non-profit organization that works in the area of reproductive and sexual health, anchor of the WRAI since 2002. The campaign has been implemented in ten districts of Rajasthan - Badmer, Chittorgadh, Dausa, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Karauli, Rajsamand, Tonk and Udaipur through its field-based partner organisations.

The organisation is imparting health-related vital information during pregnancy and making women aware through a series of short videos on topics such as breastfeeding, antenatal care, safe delivery, postnatal care, disrespect, stigma, and positive childbirth experience. These films have been shared with people on social media to women and provide information through personal and group viewing on smartphones and laptops.

‘‘During this fortnight, the short films have been shown to more than 15,000 women who are pregnant, breastfeeding and in the reproductive age group. The films have also been shared with more than 3,500 frontline workers (ASHAs, ANMs, Anganwadi Workers) who are using the films to discuss it with women in their respective areas. The films have also been shared with block and district level health officials and administrators,’’ Smita Bajpai, state coordinator - Rajasthan, SuMa and project director, CHETNA told Asianet Newsable.

The response to the campaign has been immense as it has helped women and their families to shed their fears and access updated information in the pandemic situation. It has also helped frontline workers to counsel women and families to seek pregnancy related care, added Smita.

“We have a simple mobile phone in our family. Mostly it is with my husband. I got to see films on the phone of the NGO workers who came to our house. The video was that of a pregnant woman who was worried about her check-up during pregnancy. I could relate to this film, as during the lock down I was scared of going to the centre, and also about my health and that of the baby. As shown in the film, I contacted the nurse didi and she reassured me,’’ said Suman, a local from rural Udaipur.

“It was fun watching those videos. The stories were interesting and the messages very useful to relieve us as most of us were scared of going for check-ups,” said Santosh, who hails from rural Jhunjhunu.

“The films are small, visually appealing and provide updated information. These have been developed by White Ribbon Alliance India and I wish that the Department of Medical Health and Family Welfare, Government of Rajasthan adopts these films and ensures that the messages reach all women and communities of the state,” said Smita.