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Basking the early morning sun and drinking tea in front of his mud house in Semjong, Tsirang, Goman Singh Bista, 65, makes a quick call.

The village health worker (VHW) is reminding a woman in the village about her antenatal care (ANC).

Goman Singh

Goman Singh

“My role has now changed,” he said.

As one of the oldest serving VHWs in Tsirang, he said he started working in the 1990s, where he had to walk to Damphu hospital, collect medicines and distribute it to the villagers.

He had to go around the village, collecting data on pregnancy, newborn, death and other health-related data then. “There was no road connectivity in the village then and my job was tedious.”

The village elder said that duties and responsibilities of a VHW lightened drastically with the arrival of road connectivity, electricity and mobile phone.

Citing an example of how people inform him before they went to call the health officials, he said he is blessed to be a part of the transition in health services. “People can now consult health experts,” he said.

Today, his job is to collect data on sanitation and drinking water connectivity in his village. He assists health workers when they visit outreach clinic (ORC) every month.

He reminds expecting mothers about their ANC visits on the advice of the health officials and reminds mothers of their family planning routine.

The father of seven is illiterate. He enrolled to receive education from non-formal education but he had to drop.

Goman Singh did not receive any monetary benefits for the service he carried out passionately for last 25 years. Besides a study tour in 1996 to Paro, Haa and Thimphu and other annual health meetings in the dzongkhag, Goman did not go out of the village.

VHW is a voluntary job, appointed mainly by the local leaders. “I gained knowledge on health and satisfaction for doing this noble service,” he said.

He, however, said that the government should explore the possibility of paying salary to the VHWs in future. “I don’t think the youth would sacrifice their farm work and do the job.”

Nirmala Pokhrel |Tsirang

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