Mar 21, 2016

Infant and maternal health in Nepal

Little Sonam the morning of his discharge
Little Sonam the morning of his discharge

The following video by gifted Nepali journalist and film maker Subina Shrestha powerfully illustrates why our work in Nepal is so immensely important. Please take a look:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ76DB1NSfE

The government of Nepal invests around Rs 3 billion annually in maternal and child health, and the country has made great strides in recent years to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (under-five child mortality has been reduced to 38 per 1,000 live births and the number of infants dying in the first year after the birth has decreased to 33). Yet, compared with other developing countries, much work remains to be done. 

Studies show that infant and maternal mortality rates are particularly high 

  • among illiterate women, 
  • among those not involved in decision making for their health care,  
  • for women who had birth intervals of less than two years, 
  • who have multiple births, 
  • are from rural areas, 
  • are poor, 
  • whose source of water was the river or unprotected source, and 
  • who did not have a toilet facility in their household.

This pretty much describes the demographics of the area that the DCWC Rajbash hospital has been serving for the last 5 years.  Actually, the DCWC’s efforts of improving the quality of life of women and children have a much longer history. Since the year 2002 this small NGO has been serving poor, illiterate and disempowered women in remote Nepal by conducting literacy classes, including financial literacy, and by making presentations about basic health and hygiene. Once the hospital opened, outreach was extended to include even more remote areas (see our report #6). Challenging long held cultural traditions is not always well received, however we believe that by continuing to educate both, men and women about the risks of home births in unhygienic conditions and without proper maternal support, we will convince ever more families to use our hospital for safe birthing and for proper perinatal care. 

Our recent government designation as a regional birthing center allows us to provide some small financial incentives for women who chose to give birth at the hospital. Ideally, of course, we want pregnant women to not only come for delivery, but to seek proper pre- and post-natal care with us as well. It would enable our certified midwives to ensure a healthy progression of the pregnancy, provide support and advice, particularly to new mothers, and administer important vitamins or meds if needed. Once an infant is in the system, there would be follow-up with post natal check ups and proper vaccinations.

The Health Ministry has delegated two nurses to the Kavre district to administer vaccinations. However,  lacking proper facilities and refrigeration, the government has asked Rajbash Hospital to become the 'vaccination central'  for the district in the future. We have applied for government funding to purchase an appropriate refrigerator for the proper long term storage of vaccines. The power from our recently installed solar panels (which have been performing beautifully) will guarantee that vaccines and medications will be properly refrigerated.

The Health Ministry has also asked for our cooperation in their efforts to expand family planning in rural areas. They are looking to our outreach staff to educate villagers about various family planning techniques. In addition they are planning to provide modest financial incentives for women and men who chose to have tubal ligations or vasectomies at our hospital.

The last three months at Rajbash were still very much dominated by the shortage of medicines and other essentials due to the closed borders between India and Nepal. The 5 months embargo was finally lifted in February, and we hope that life will slowly return to normal. Given the challenges the Nepali people and DCWC have faced throughout the last year, we are moved by their courage, steadfastness and resiliency under pressure.

Total patient numbers have held steady compared to last quarter. However we have seen a surge in gynecological and pediatric cases which could mean that our outreach activities are bearing fruit.

One of the pediatric patients was one year old little Sonam who was carried down a steep slope for two hours by his anxious father. The child was feverish and seemed very cold. The dad really wanted to take his son to the city hospital ‘to get the best care’, but since the bus did not run for lack of petrol (embargo) and he did not have the money for other transport, he decided to come to the Rajbash hospital. The little guy was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and with proper treatment and only one day at the hospital he was sent back home with his very grateful father.

Another patient, a 68 year old male, found himself with acute abdominal pain in the middle of the night and was terrified he might die without treatment. He asked his wife to gather nearby relatives to carry him the two and a half hours to Rajbash hospital. Fortunately our ambulance was able to meet the party halfway and delivered him and his family to the hospital. Treatment for acute gastritis was started immediately and by morning he felt well enough to head back home. He was thanking god and our staff for what seemed to him like a new lease on life.

Announcements:                                                                                                                                                                     May 21/22, 2016 -  Akka Lama, founder of DCWC, will be present at the Himalayan Fair in Berkeley, CA.                         April 2017            -  We are planning a charity trek to Annapurna Sanctuary for the benefit of Rajbash Hospital                 For more information email: pgraneys@yahoo.com.

In closing we want to express our gratitude to all of you who have provided the ongoing support for the delivery of essential medical care to the poor in the remote Kavre district of Nepal. If you are interested in other activities of DCWC, we'd like to draw your attention to our ongoing rebuilding project (#21975) on the globalgiving.org website.

 

 

68 yr. old patient - a new lease on life
68 yr. old patient - a new lease on life

Links:

Dec 17, 2015

DOUBLE YOUR DOLLARS!

A new life at Rajbash hospital
A new life at Rajbash hospital

                 HELP US KEEP RAJBASH HOSPITAL OPEN

                 DONATIONS MATCHED THROUGH DECEMBER 31ST!

 

Nepal has been devastated by earthquakes, incompetently administered relief efforts, and, more recently, a de facto embargo of goods from India. The embargo of petroleum products has brought the country to a near standstill. Food and medicines are in short supply and 3 million children under 5 yrs. are at risk of disease or starvation.

Throughout these crises, our DCWC Rajbash Community Hospital has been a beacon of hope for people in the Kavre/Sindhupalchok region.  It has provided ongoing medical services and perinatal care to thousands of subsistence farming families in this remote rural district since 2010. After the earthquakes it became a command center for relief activities in the region and provided free medical treatment for those injured in the quakes. 

Unfortunately the hospital was not spared during the earthquakes of last Spring. Major damage occurred on the second floor and equipment was lost when the May 12th quake devastated houses and livelyhoods in the Kavre/Sindhupalchok region. For months patients were treated under a make shift tent in the hospital yard.

As Dr. Uddhav, our Nepali physician, just reported, the repairs of the hospital are almost done, and life will become easier for our staff. They look forward to having separate spaces for each department and for the wards again. As befits our new government designation as a regional birthing center, a birthing unit with a delivery room and a nursery will have a separate space on the second floor. In collaboration with the Nepali government the hospital would like to start a regular vaccination program. However, we are in need of a freezer that would allow us to keep vaccines from spoiling. 

While we have not yet been terribly affected by the current shortage of medicines, there is no guarantee this will remain the case if Nepali/Indian borders remain closed and the import of medicines becomes problematic.

In our last report we told you about a trip we were planning for April 2016: A mission to rebuild the damaged hospital kitchen and to show our solidarity with the Nepali people as they try to recover from a very difficult year.  Due to the volatile political situation in Nepal and the shortages of supplies we have now decided to cancel our trip to Rajbash until further notice.  We feel it is more important, at this very challenging time, to focus on ensuring the ongoing operations at the hospital. For this we are asking for your help.

We are pleased to announce that the generous Benito and Frances C. Gaguine Foundation has offered to match any donations made to the hospital through December 31st. This is your chance to make a donation to our hospital, to DOUBLE YOUR DOLLARS, and to ensure essential medical care for this very challenged population. 

It can be overwhelming to think about the many challenges facing Nepal, but donating today is something very specific you can do to help Nepal’s people.  Please, Double Your Dollars with this match.

With deep gratitude from the entire DCWC community and our best wishes for a peaceful holiday season. 

Karin Reibel

Project Leader for DCWC projects

 

 

 

Our newly donated warm crib for newborns
Our newly donated warm crib for newborns
The newly repaired second floor at Rajbash Hospita
The newly repaired second floor at Rajbash Hospita
Dec 17, 2015

End of year update

Kharpani school, inaugurated April 2009
Kharpani school, inaugurated April 2009

‘Today I just over look picture from 2009 when we opened school at Kharpai (remote Nepal). Here is some picture of before earthquake and after earthquake.

During school opening ceremony showed many children and their parents smile on face.

Where to go these children to study?  What will be their future?’

Akka Lama, Director of DCWC (Development of Children and Women Center) charity, Nepal

As I am sitting by a warm fire in my California home on this beautiful, rainy, pre-christmas day, counting my blessings, Akka’s comment takes me back to our beloved, tormented Nepal.

The most recent news tell me that for nearly three months now the country has practically been locked down. Disagreements over the newly signed constitution have pitted various populations against each other, more than 50 people were killed in the ensuing riots, and the government of India, also unhappy with parts of this new constitution, has declared a de facto embargo of petrol products and many other important goods to Nepal, leading to shortages of fuel, rice and many other necessities of everyday life. Schools are closed and transportation infrastructure paralyzed. Border posts between Nepal and India are either closed or unsafe to cross. Some expressed hope that China might come to the rescue, however the logistics involved appear so complicated that it could take many months before goods from Nepal’s norther neighbor could reach the country. 

Unicef estimates there are over 3 million children under 5 yrs. in Nepal who are at risk for disease or starvation. Thousands of families are still living in temporary shelters and we’ve heard many reports of families taking a child to a monastery because they are unable to care for him/her any longer.  

News of the catastrophic earthquakes last Spring has long been eclipsed by so many other global calamities that all deserve our attention. However, our brothers and sisters in Nepal are living the resulting loss and hardship of this natural disaster every day - and they will for years to come. With remarkable resilience in the face of unimaginable destruction they have rallied, sorted through the piles of rubble, helped each other to make new shelters, tried to establish some normalcy.  With the recent developments they now have the additional worry about food shortages, hunger and malnutrition as well.

Your generous donations to our earthquake relief project enabled DCWC to provide immediate relief to thousands in the hard hit Kavre/Nagre Gagarche area. Also with your help, and generous grants provided by Global Giving, DCWC has repaired and rebuilt many schools. They are also working hard to reach their goal of building 500 new shelters for families who have lost their homes in the quakes. As of this writing more than 150 structures have been completed. The progress made is impressive, but, as you can see from the attached pictures and Akka’s note, much remains to be done.

Thinking about the many challenges Nepal is facing can be overwhelming, but donating today is something very specific you can do to help Nepal’s people. Please make your donation to Global Giving, Project # 21975, now and help us support Nepal’s people in their time of need. 

With sincere wishes for a peaceful holiday season,

Karin Reibel,

Project Leader for DCWC projects

Kharpani students at inauguration of their school
Kharpani students at inauguration of their school
Inaugural plaque
Inaugural plaque
Kharpani school post earthquake 2015
Kharpani school post earthquake 2015

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