The Chepang is one of the poor, marginalized, indigenous ethnic communities in Nepal. They have lived a semi-nomadic life, fully dependent on natural forest resources surrounding them. Households average about 6-8 people in small inadequate conditions, leaving families vulnerable to infectious diseases. The nearest health post can be up to 7 hour walk away. Implementing WASH awareness program for the Chepang will make them be aware of infectious diseases and help to prevent ill health in future.
Health has not been prioritised by the Chepang people, arguably due to lack of education and awareness on prevention & sanitary practice. Although they are shifting to a more settled way of life, they still lack awareness on healthy practices. There have been inadequate government interventions to support them. Traditional practices such as shamans or prayer are still first source of care. People must be made aware of importance of healthy practices and seeking adequate healthcare when needed.
We will establish educational awareness programmes that inform communities about WASH and how to look out for symptoms of TB and other infectious diseases. Training local people to prevent ill health will help communities to adapt their lifestyles and introduce sanitary method of practice. We aim to encourage women to train as local health volunteers, in order to offer them independence and empower women in the community.
Helping people adapt their lifestyles to lead a healthier more sanitary way of living will help to prevent disease in local communities. Encouraging people to seek help from their nearest health post, or using local health volunteers, will encourage them to receive appropriate support when they show signs of illness. Acknowledging the correct care for infectious disease and recognising that, with treatment, illness can be curable will lessen the stigma that surrounds infectious diseases.