Tai Bano was born and raised in Thingdass, Punial, in Ghizer District, Gilgit-Baltistan. An alumna of the Diamond Jubilee Girls High School in Singal, Tai eventually moved to Karachi to pursue her studies in higher education. After completing the midwifery programme at the Aga Khan Hospital for Women in Karimabad in 2005 and subsequently the general nursing programme at Indus Hospital in 2010, she returned to Gilgit-Baltistan to serve as a community health nurse.
Initially based at an Aga Khan Health Service (AKHS) primary healthcare unit in Chipurson, a remote valley in Hunza District, it was not long before Tai accepted another AKHS post in her hometown at Singal Medical Centre.
“In July 2012, I was offered a job at Singal Medical Centre (SMC) as a community health nurse. It was a great opportunity for me to serve the community of my hometown, so I accepted the offer. My day-to-day duties included working in the Labour Room, the Paediatric Ward, the Emergency Room and general ward duties, as well as working different day and night shifts.”
In 2016, Tai received an opportunity to advance her studies and credentials at the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery (AKU-SONAM) in Karachi.
“My main motivation for enrolling in this programme was the alarmingly high neonatal and maternal mortality rates in Pakistan. My goal was to be able to provide essential neonatal and maternal services to underserved community in remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. In addition, I was also keen on learning about recent and updated global clinical guidelines and best practices from WHO, NICE, Cochrane, RCOG and others, and train midwives according to them.”
By this time, Tai had a family of her own, including a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. The prospect of relocating to Karachi had become a bit more complex.
“Initially, I thought it would not be possible for me to move with my family... Where would we live? How would we get by? How would I divide time between my family and coursework?”
“With all these questions in the back of my mind, I took the plunge. It wasn’t easy, but with my family’s support I managed to not only complete my degree, but graduate with honours. In hindsight, all these challenges strengthened my self-belief, and proved to be an invaluable lesson for managing a challenging routine and competing deadlines. In short, this journey was just what I needed.”
Tai graduated from AKU in November 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Midwifery (BScM) degree. Today, working as a community health nurse at the Aga Khan Medical Centre in Gilgit, she reports how the exposure received at AKU is helping her in her current role.
“Initially, when I decided to apply to the Bachelor of Science in Midwifery (BScM) programme, I assumed that it would be a simple undertaking, but when I started the coursework, I realised that the programme took a holistic approach to midwifery, and included content from other areas as well. The environment and curriculum of this programme was very well rounded, and I learned about research work, sciences, evidence-based practices, and I was also exposed to different clinical practices, [all of] which I make use of in my day-to-day work now.”
Going forward, as a qualified midwife, Tai is eager to not only to grow in her own role, but also become an agent of change, especially for improving neonatal and maternal health indicators in Pakistan.