Rajina HI physio in Nepal providing instructions to the beneficiaries with different exercise at rehabilitation unit in Nepal (June 2020) | © HI / Archives
The Covid-19 epidemic has plunged Nepal into a public health disaster. One of the poorest nations in Asia, it does not have the resources to cope. HI stands ready to assist the most vulnerable people.
As the international community focuses its attention on India, a similar crisis is unfolding in neighbouring Nepal. Public hospitals are overwhelmed. Patients are dying at home and outside hospitals as they await admission. In rural areas, where there are no hospitals, people are dying at home without proper diagnosis. “Imagine what this sort of crisis means for older and disabled people, who are more likely to get infected and suffer more severe symptoms and complications from COVID-19," says Reiza Dejito, HI's director for Nepal. “It impacts them in two ways because they find it difficult to move or find help. Strict lockdown measures also very often result in a loss of income and limited access to health and social welfare services. Vulnerable people are therefore more at risk.”
As the epidemic worsens, needs are growing. The lack of accessible information for families means vulnerable people are unaware of Covid-19 risks and the need to protect themselves, get tested and vaccinated. People living in rural areas and urban slums do not have access to clean water, soap or masks. Mental health risks are also very high. The crisis, illness, death and isolation have increased the vulnerability of the population as a whole.
During the first wave of Covid-19 in 2020, HI provided more than 15,000 families in Nepal, or nearly 90,000 people, with support. In response to this latest wave, HI again plans to improve access to communication by developing and sharing information on Covid-19 risks, prevention and response. This will include information in accessible formats such as Braille, and the use of local languages.
The organisation also plans to distribute hygiene kits and promote hygiene practices to new isolation and quarantine facilities, isolated communities, and people who have problems maintaining good hygiene.
The organisation also plans to distribute food and provide care to older people, people suffering chronic diseases, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and others.
HI’s teams are also expected to provide mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to assist front-line doctors and vulnerable people, including people with disabilities and their families.
To make it easier to access services provided by the authorities, or other NGOs, HI will refer the most vulnerable people, and may help transport them to health facilities for testing, treatment and vaccinations.
HI and the pandemic
HI’s teams have been providing a response to the pandemic since March 2020. They have taken action in 46 of the 50 countries where they work and implemented more than 160 projects in aid of people affected by the Covid-19 crisis. More than 2.2 million people have been assisted by HI.
Between March and August 2020.