We visited a remote village of the Okhaldunga district in the Everest region of Nepal and found the people living there sadly in need of all types of health facilities.
This area, consisting of a population of over ten thousand, receives a total yearly government health budget equaling a mere $150 for its nine villages! Not surprisingly, this amount is nearly depleted in the first month or two of the year.
We quickly became aware that even basic health education was lacking in the areas of personal hygiene, food preparation, sewage disposal, etc.
Many of the children had infected burns as most cooking is done by firewood. Serious cuts and gashes, many of which become infected, are also very common, as most men carry large knives used as all-purpose tools. Being a mountainous area, falls resulting in broken bones are commonplace. Sadly, most of the time the families are unable or hesitant to take their child to a hospital, resulting in deformities and disabilities.
The nearest health facilities are a two-day walk. Dental health care is only available in a nearby mission hospital, which is a two-to four-day walk, depending on the strength of the individual. The only eye check-ups available, should anyone from the area have the time and money to travel, are all the way in the capital, Kathmandu.
The infant mortality rate in the villages that we surveyed was twice the rate in the US. These villagers lack even the most basic training in pre-natal care and delivery. For example, we interviewed a woman who had been walking around months after delivery with the placenta still in her womb!
Thanks to a grant provided by Family Care Foundation, we are constructing a simple healthcare building where the medical supplies will be stored and dispensed, and patient examination and treatment will take place, as well as health classes given to the villages.
After our first trainee, Mingmar Sherpa, completed certification as a Village Community Health Worker (see Himalaya Sherpa benefits Thousands) and returned to the village to begin his work there, we realized the need for a female trainee, specifically to help with the maternity health care. Patle VDC has a high infant mortality rate of over 15%, and there is insufficient education and training to help the local women.
Last year Rinjee Sherpa (26) traveled from the Patle Village District in the remote Okhaldunga Region to take a Community Health Worker course in Kathmandu at the Institute of Community Health (ICH). This is part of our ongoing Family Care Foundation Health Clinic Project in Phapre Village in the Patle District—and an area with a population of over 10,000 that is sadly in need of reliable, consistent health care.
Rinjee trained as a general Community Health Worker, but with a special focus on maternity health, so as to be able to help fill this need. She graduated from the CHW course, and returned with a supply of medicine and other health care supplies.
One very important advantage in determining that this Village Health Center will be a long-term success is that we have the full cooperation and participation of the local community. The locals themselves have been willing to make the necessary commitments to do what they can to make this happen, as well as to ensure its success. An example of this cooperation is that while we are financing the construction of the building, one of the villagers is donating some of his land for the building site.