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Episode Transcript

Lama Alsafi: 00:01 Hello and welcome to 15 Minutes to Change the World, where in 15 minutes you can learn a bit more about the world and how you can help change it.

Lama Alsafi: 00:39 My name is Lama Alsafi standing in for Kasia Souchen as host of this podcast. According to the World Health Organization, maternal deaths have dropped by around 44% between 1990 and 2015 and while this decline is encouraging, we know approximately 830 women around the world still die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy or childbirth related complications. 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries.

Lama Alsafi: 01:21 Manju is from Bihar, one of India's poorest and largest states with a population of over 110 million people. Almost 90% of Bihar is rural, which means the necessary infrastructure and resources are very limited. Despite some recent gains, it has some of the country's highest rates of maternal neonatal and infant mortality, as well as a high prevalence of malnutrition, stunted growth and high fertility rates. Manju gave birth to her third child on the side of the road, one mile from the nearest health facilities.

Lama Alsafi: 02:12 When my third child was born, Manju says there weren't any ambulances here. My mother-in-law wasn't here. I had excessive bleeding. They took me in a wheelbarrow. On the way my daughter was born and it took four hours to reach the medical facilities because it was winter. Manju knew as soon as she and her baby were safe that she never wanted any other women to go through what she had just experienced.

Through work with CARE and local partners Manju decided to become an accredited health worker. Manju is now working on the front line connecting her village to the public health system. She visits dozens of families each day, counseling expectant mothers and checking on newborn babies. Dressed in her official blue-trimmed saree, Manju walks to her appointments with expectant and new mothers. With long distances between health centers, poor road conditions, and limited transportation options people living in rural and remote areas of Bihar have little access to facility based health services. When asked more about why she does this work, she shared, I don't do this work for money. I want to do work that benefits people. Each morning we do home visits on foot. Lots of people know me. I give them information that benefits them and that's why they trust me. Health workers like Manju work hard to provide in home counseling, health and hygiene, education, and basic maternal newborn and child health and nutrition services to families in need.

Health workers like Manju, have the potential to save millions of lives. There used to be 2-4 infant deaths every month, Manju says. Since we have started working, the mortality rate from others has declined and infant mortality rate has gone down a lot. Bihar has gotten better. Since 2011, 85,000 healthcare workers like Manju have partnered with the government and CARE to transform the state of healthcare in villages across Bihar. During this time, less mothers have died and more babies have lived, on top of that more babies were delivered in healthcare facilities and more babies have been protected against disease.

Lama Alsafi: 04:30 All Manju wanted was to make sure that no one else would ever experience the struggle she did during childbirth. Through her hard work and training, she has managed to do this and so much more truly making an impact in her community.

Lama Alsafi: 04:46 Thank you to all our listeners for tuning in. Want to hear more stories like Manju's? Sign-up for our e-newsletter at care.ca or LIKE us on Facebook to get the latest news. As always, you can stay up to date on our newest episodes of 15 Minutes to Change the World on Spotify and iTunes.