Narayani KC is a Female Community Health Volunteer, working as BNMT volunteer for last three years for TB REACH wave 5 and now in DrOTS Nepal Project in Pyuthan district. She works in Majhkot rural municipality, one of the remote areas that takes more than four hours to walk. Transportation is one of the challenges in Majhkot due to high hills and rugged road; and in some places one needs to make their own way to move as there are no roads.
Initially acceptance of TB Screening was very low due to stigma about TB, at some times Narayani had to make continuous counselling and even take help from local community leader to convince people to give samples for TB screening. After TB diagnosis, she use to do frequent follow ups and also take the patients for follow up tests for treatment adherence. Due to her efforts for raising awareness, people developed conviction towards her and started to be more welcoming to her.
In the absence of drone, her normal routine was to wake up early morning and walk at least 2-3 hours to visit the house of presumptive TB patient to collect sputum samples. Then, again she would walk for another 3-4 hours to reach the District Health office, or wait for hours to take the local bus to the Office. When she saw the drone for the first time, she thought it was a ‘helicopter’. Later, she was thrilled to know that this ‘helicopter’ was going to carry the sample to the health facilities, therefore she no longer needed to walk for so long to reach to the patients or District Health Office. She received BNMT training on opening the drone container and putting the samples inside.
Every Monday the drone lands at Majhkot Health Post to receive the collected TB samples and Narayani supports in handling the samples applying all the precautionary measures. She receives report of the tests performed often within a day and informs people about the positive or negative results. She then provides counselling to the people diagnosed to get registered into the treatment.
Narayani is extensively involved in informing and educating school children and teachers of Majhkot about the new ‘helicopter’ in her area. Few children attempted to throw stones at drones in the beginning, but they were informed again not to do so. She has been very careful about the act.
Narayani shares that drone has made her personal life much easier. She can focus more on her household works, give time to her children as she does not have to consume her time walking for hours or waiting the lab results.
Her greatest support is her husband, who is also a social worker. He gives her a ride in his motorbike to her working station, accompanies her in door to door sputum collection and counsels the people for good health.
People in Majhkot regard drone as a new development of Science and this work has also increased Narayani’s trust among her friends, family and community people. She is confident that if she receives proper training, she is willing to operate the drone in her community.