When the earthquake hit Nepal in April 2015, Sindhupalchok, north-east of Kathmandu, was one of the worst-hit districts. Its health services, already basic, were decimated.
The Nepalese government has said it aims to get all of Nepal’s damaged health posts rebuilt and earthquake-proof by 2020, but funding has only been committed for about 30 per cent of permanent reconstruction. Many health posts and hospitals are still operating in tents or temporary buildings, and the pace of reconstruction is slow. Lack of safe, warm shelter and sanitation increases the likelihood of waterborne diseases such as cholera. Pregnant women and young children are especially at risk.
The monsoon season and the winter put even more pressure on the health system – during these seasons, more people get sick and it is harder for them to get to a hospital.
Doctors of the World has been working in Sindhupalchok since 2007. Before the earthquake we focused on supporting local women’s cooperatives and improving access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, which are still vital parts of the project. We train village leaders in how to help women access quality SRH and maternity care, and we also train community workers to identify women who might have experienced gender-based violence.
We’re also delivering general training to health workers, as well as helping communities build and maintain sanitation facilities and health posts. We plan to have 16 health posts running and staffed by the end of 2018.
During the earthquake response, we realised we needed to help communities prepare better for any disasters. We’ve started to train communities in emergency first aid, and we’re setting up systems with the local authority to make sure we’ll always medical supplies available.