The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International is helping to improve prenatal and infant health across the Tibetan Plateau in Western China through its training of volunteer health workers.
ADRA introduced the Community Health Worker program in the Zaduo prefecture three years ago, and agency officials say they’ve noticed pregnant woman are now more open to receiving health examinations.
Previously, an elder woman in the village would inform the health worker of the women who were pregnant, which was thought of as a private issue. Now that villagers have seen a decrease in birth complications and infant death, expectant mothers now seek out health workers for exams.
“We’ve seen a change in the mindset of women and their husbands in seeking out the Community Health Worker, asking them to be present at the birth and invite them post-birth,” said Christina Hudgins, ADRA’s director of constituency development.
Healthcare in the Tibetan Plateau is otherwise limited. Nearly all villagers are yak-herding nomads living in one-room homes throughout the winter in sub-zero temperatures. From May to August, most head into the mountains where their yaks can graze.
Community Health Workers, all of whom are female volunteers, continually receive training and visit expectant mothers in their homes each month.
Officials from ADRA China said they plan to triple the number of women and newborns receiving services over the next five years. ADRA has worked in the region since 2004.
For more information, visit ADRA.org.