“I never knew my baby had died in the womb when I was 5 months pregnant." Salma said.
It was a life-threatening condition for Salma Akhter, a twenty five year old worker at the Fashion House (Southern) Ltd on the outskirts of Bangladesh's capital Dhaka. Hailing from Jamalpur, Salma is an example of how, as a result of misconceptions and a lack of affordable healthcare, garment workers often overlook their own health and wellbeing.
Luckily for Salma the factory where she worked had recently introduced the Health Insurance Scheme supported by Careefour Foundation, The Sphere Association and SNV in Bangladesh and Salma's life was saved by the care she received. Salma wanted to share her story to encourage other women to look after themselves during pregnancy and avail of healthcare schemes to avoid tragedies in the future.
When Salma was five months pregnant she paid her first visit to the factory's medical centre. Despite advice from her doctor to undertake an ultrasound as the heartbeat of the baby could not be heard, Salma chose not to have the recommended test done. Unfortunately many women in the developing world still do not fully understand the benefits of modern healthcare or often struggle to be able to afford essential procedures like this.
Some months later she attended the factory's medical centre with severe bleeding. Unfortunately Salma's baby had died in her uterus 4 weeks earlier and this had resulted in an infection which required immediate hospitalisation. "Thankfully at that time, she already had the insurance card so we immediately sent her to the hospital", Dr. Farzana says. Under the insurance scheme, Salma was hospitalised for a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure to stop the bleeding and prevent further infections. "They took great care of me for those three days. The doctors operated on me and gave me all the medicines I needed to heal the surgical wounds. I paid only BDT 100 for my insurance card but received treatments worth BDT 9,500", Salma says. The costs of her three days hospitalisation were covered by the factory insurance scheme.