After 33 years of dedicated service in which she assisted in more than 10,000 live birth deliveries, without a single mortality, Katheeza Beevi, an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) working at the municipal urban health centre at Villupuram town in Tamil Nadu, will be retiring in June this year.
Amazed by her incredible work, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, who was in Villupuram recently to review the district’s development works, honoured her with a shield. Villupuram Collector C. Palani also felicitated her during the Independence Day celebrations.
According to her current and past colleagues, Katheeza Beevi played a key role in a majority of those live births, especially between 1990 and 2000, at the health centre which also functioned as a maternity home, earning it the sobriquet of “raasiyaana pirasava aspathiri” (lucky maternity hospital) among the people of surrounding villages and also the Periya Colony, a major Dalit habitation in Villupuram town. The mothers mostly belonged to poor agricultural families. The health centre, which functioned under the Villupuram municipality until recently, has been brought under the State government’s Directorate of Health and Medical Services as one of its urban health centres.
Speaking to Frontline, Katheeza Beevi said that her three-decade-long uninterrupted service at a single health centre helped her greatly in achieving this rare feat. She said: “Until 2010, the health centre used to carry out 100-odd deliveries in a month. The birth delivery register would contain all the details about admissions and labour notes on each and every birth. It would be the most important document based on which the birth certificates would be issued.” With the rise in population and as more hospitals came up in Villupuram, the number of deliveries in the centre has also fallen to hardly 20 a month.
A rare achievement
The most significant part of the achievement was that the health centre did not register a single casualty. Katheeza Beevi said: “We, as a team, consisting of a residential doctor, two ANMs including me, and two assistants, used to work 24x7. We used to screen all pregnant mothers after receiving the feedback from village health nurses who would pay home visits for any complications among pregnant women before admitting them in our centre. We take zero-risk cases. Any complicated case would immediately be referred to the government hospital, where facilities are more advanced,” she said.
It was also a very rare opportunity for any ANM to have her entire service at a single hospital. Katheeza Beevi said: “When I joined the Centre, I was seven months pregnant. Since I live just behind the hospital, at any time I would be available for any delivery. I rarely went on leave. At most I would have taken a month or so and on very few occasions.”
Katheeza Beevi drew inspiration from her mother, who was a village health nurse. She said: “I served two generations of mothers and their daughters. I assisted deliveries to a mother, and 21 years after, her daughter too. Many twins, besides triplets, were born here. I have no regrets.”
Villupuram is one of the poorest districts in Tamil Nadu with a Human Development Index of 0.589. But its institutional delivery percentage at 94.3 per cent is higher than the State’s 94.1.