Kashmir’s Women Paramedics: Bringing hope and driving change
35-year-old Munira says, “Both the government and private healthcare facilities were in poor condition. Even the treatment of small injuries was not possible, as paramedics were too scared to step out. The nearest maternity home was in Srinagar, and for people in remote areas it took a long time to reach the hospital as we had to stop regularly at army check posts.” This crisis in healthcare deeply disturbed doctor Ali Mohamed Mir, a retired Indian Administrative Service officer. He wanted to do something to ease the problem. So, he collaborated with the Jammu & Kashmir Voluntary Health and Development Association (J&K VHDA) and decided to reach out to the worst affected villages. That’s how Munira suddenly found herself undergoing training in basic healthcare, natal care and in trauma counseling. “I learned about anti-natal and post-natal care. I underwent training – gradually – and began by going from home to home, finding and registering pregnant women,” she says. She also learned how to talk to women about basic healthcare, nutrition, and pregnancy care. But it wasn’t easy. In the shadow of militancy, Munira and her colleagues worked at great personal risk.