Manti Kumari, a contractual auxiliary nurse midwife has the responsibility of conducting an immunization programme for young children in Mahuadanr Block of Latehar in Jharkhand. Seems to be a simple and common job right? But in order for Manti to do this job, she has to travel a distance of up to 35 kilometres in dense forests and cross a river carrying her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter on her back along with a vaccine box on her shoulder. According to Manti, who is posted at Chetma health sub-centre and has to cover eight villages, she has been doing the same routine for over a year now following three months of maternity leave.
Manti told New Indian Express, “As some of the villages which I am supposed to cover are located at faraway places with rivers on its way, there is no choice but to cross it. Though these rivers are not very deep, there always are chances of getting carried away along with the stream during the rainy season. Sometimes when the level of water increases, I have to skip that village till the water recedes."
Manti lives with her husband Sunil Oraon in Mahuadanr, which is 25kms away from Chetma Health Centre. Oraon lost his job due to the lockdown, however, Manti not only makes sure that she is able to feed her child and husband but also keeps in mind the safety of other children living in the remotest villages of Maoist hotbed where it is still difficult to avail medical treatment.
Manti crosses river Burra at three different places in order to reach Tisiya, Goira, and Sugabandh villages. Manti said, “I have to visit each of these three villages at least once every month by crossing the river, besides the villages which could be reached only by walking through dense forests." Since public transport is not available due to the lockdown, her husband accompanies her up to some distance.
According to the Medical Officer at Chetma health sub-centre Amit Khalkho, it is a daily routine for health workers to cross rivers and dense forests to reach remote villages in Mahuadanr.