Health closer to home: Restoring healthcare in Nepal

By Aaron Aspi, Communications Officer, Nepal Emergency Response

In the aftermath of the earthquakes that rocked Nepal last spring, many remote communities were left without access to healthcare when health posts were destroyed and damaged. In the year that’s followed World Vision has worked with communities to rebuild health posts and promote safe birth and hygiene practices. Our communicator Aaron Aspi recently visited a renovated health centre in Ghorka, central Nepal, to see the difference it’s been making.

Nurse Parbati Sharma has a busy day ahead of her. It’s been just over a month since the new health post opened, and since then she’s been seeing up to 25 patients each day.

“It’s good to have a health post in this remote area. People can now come here to get treatment for their everyday medical needs,” Parbati says.

People from all walks of life are visiting the new health post - mothers, children and the elderly, all drawn from one of the areas of Nepal that bore the brunt of the aftershocks in April last year.

Last year the village health post - which served around 6,000 people from nearby communities - was undergoing badly needed renovation work when the earthquake struck. During the repairs, we worked with the local village committee to make sure that the rebuilt building could withstand any future disasters.

Closer to home

At 87-years-old, Mukti is energetic and mobile, but he relies on the health post for a regular supply of medicine. At his age, having a health post closer to home is a godsend.

“I go to the health post up to three times a week to have my blood pressure checked,” he told me.

When the health post re-opened, 72-year-old Narmaya rushed through her morning chores to catch the handover of the newly-constructed building. She wasn’t going to miss its official opening, knowing it would remove the difficulties she’d had travelling to the city hospital.

“We had to walk hours to reach the hospital in Gorkhabazaar (the nearest city) as the health post here lacked adequate facilities and medicines."

The new building has better facilities including a birthing centre, solar powered backup, a water supply and a toilet.

"Now we don't need to head to the city for simple illnesses," Nirmaya says enthusiastically.

As Moniek Kindred, World Vision’s Health Advisor for the Nepal Emergency Response says, restoring the health post was a vital step in improving the wellbeing of the community in Gaikhur.

"A heath post is the heart of all primary health care services…which is why it is critical to have health centres functioning as soon as possible after an emergency. The newly constructed health post offers a clean and safe space for both health workers and community members to deliver and receive health care with access to all essential medical equipment to deliver a quality service to patients,” she says.

A healthy future

Thousands of health workers and community health volunteers have formed the backbone of Nepal’s earthquake recovery in the health sector. More than 765 health facilities were damaged by the earthquake last year, and health workers often had to provide life-saving care with limited medical supplies and poor facilities.

"If a health post isn’t functioning, patients are forced to travel several hours by foot to reach the nearest facility, just to receive basic health care such as immunization, growth monitoring, antenatal/postnatal care and treatment for diarrhoea," added Kindred.

Working out of a new facility now gives Parbati the time to teach her patients about better hygiene practices, and how to feed and care for infants and young children. By being shown how to look after their own health, members of the community can stop some illnesses before they become too serious. Some mothers, like 30-year-old Bina, used to be skeptical about getting check-ups until they attended the new health centre.

“I now bring my children to the nearby health post when they don’t feel well," she says gladly.

Over the past year in Nepal World Vision has helped more than 60,560 individuals receive the medicines they need in five health posts. Two repaired health facilities are now serving more than 2,920 families. And at least 557 health volunteers have also received community health trainings. As well as restoring the new health posts, World Vision has been working with female community health volunteers to conduct training workshops on how to feed and care for infants and young children. To read more about our ongoing recovery work in Nepal, please visit our update page here »