Voices from the Field: Helping Anahit Into The World

“I didn’t lose my head for a second,” remarked Alina Hovhannisyan, after assisting a pregnant woman whose labor started suddenly—with no time to get to the hospital. “I knew all the steps I should take due to Project NOVA’s training on intrapartum care, so I was confident about my actions.”

It had been an uneventful spring day. Alina, a community nurse in Haykavan—a rural community in Shirak Marz—was about to go to bed when she got the call and rushed to Mariam Harutyunyan’s home. Mariam was in the late stage of pregnancy, but thought she had two more weeks to go. Some pregnant women from Haykavan spend the last month of their pregnancy in Gyumri, 12 km away, so they can reach the maternity hospital easily in time for delivery. The terrible condition of roads makes the traveling difficult and seems like a nightmare for women in labor. But Mariam, like most women—especially those with children—had stayed in Haykavan with her family waiting for the signs of labor.

That night in April, Alina realized that Mariam’s labor was progressing rapidly and she would unlikely manage to reach the hospital for delivery. Since home births are not permitted in Armenia, she followed the protocol and immediately called for an ambulance from the Gyumri maternity hospital. Help was on its way; however, Mariam’s labor was faster than the ambulance. Alina did not hesitate and started to provide obstetric care.
This was only Alina’s second experience with childbirth. However, she felt sure of what to do and how it should be done because Project NOVA’s nurses’ training on safe motherhood clinical skills had prepared her and given her new knowledge and skills in maternal and child care.

She gathered all the necessary supplies and medications from the health post and assisted Mariam in giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, Anahit. Alina did everything according to NOVA’s training: gave an oxytocin injection to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, checked the placenta, and assessed the mother and the newborn. Finally, she sighed with relief, satisfied with her work. When the ambulance arrived, the doctor examined the mother and baby and had nothing else to do but to praise Alina for a job well done.

Little Anahit is now a cheerful and pretty child surrounded with love. She receives the necessary health care in her community. Mariam’s family greatly appreciates both Alina’s professional and personal characteristics. “Knowledgeable and skillful, she is committed to her work and is ready to provide health care for any situation,” notes Mariam’s mother-in-law.

In addition to benefiting from Project NOVA’s safe motherhood clinical skills training, the Haykavan community saw its health post renovated, equipped and furnished three years ago through NOVA’s Community Partnership for Health initiative. It is now maintained by the supervisory health facility and the village mayor’s office. The community nurses are happy to work in such conditions equipped with necessary supplies and the best equipment—their knowledge and life-saving skills.

Over the life of Project NOVA, IntraHealth has trained 287 rural community nurses in safe motherhood clinical skills, leading to a five-fold increase in use of services NOVA-trained nurses provide primary health care services in 40% of rural health posts in Armenia.

Project NOVA (Innovations in Support of Reproductive Health) is a five-year USAID-funded initiative designed to improve quality of and access to reproductive and child health care in rural areas. The project is managed by Emerging Markets Group in collaboration with IntraHealth International and Save the Children. Major partners are the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia, marz authorities, medical training institutes and several international and local non-governmental organizations.