Colombo, Sri Lanka - Ariyaseeli Gunaweera, known as Ari to all, is a supervising public health midwife in Sri Lanka. Ajith Kumarasiri certainly thinks so - when Ari sends him on an errand, he hurries to get it done, returning with a large 10cc syringe in just a few minutes.
"Here, cut it from here," says public health midwife Kumudini Kumari as she shows the young father where to shear through the syringe so that the end with the needle falls away.
It was here that the first training school for Sri Lankan midwives began operating in 1881.Between 19, the number of trained midwives in the country multiplied from 347 to 8,741.As the midwives finish up and prepare to leave, Kumari Manel serves them a glass of cold, sweet, neon orange soda. "No one else will come to help us, only the midwives come," she says.A mother cradles her child at a clinic dedicated to babies just over a month old.According to their official schedule Ari and Kumudini are on track - midwives are expected to pay four postpartum visits; two in the first 10 days, and another two within the first two months.
In 2013, according to data collected by Sri Lanka's Family Health Bureau, 92.2 percent of new mothers who were identified and registered were visited at least once by a midwife in that critical postpartum period.
They offer what he describes as "womb to tomb" coverage, with each public health midwife responsible on average for some 3,000 people.
According to official estimates, nearly 15 million people come under the purview of the Family Health Programme.'An inspiring success': Sri Lanka's maternal mortality ratio The system is so successful that Sri Lanka has a maternal and child health record that is the envy of South Asia.
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This is an intimate relationship with the state that spans generations.