Time for me to walk my talk.
Following up on my last post about not dwelling on the negative in Nepal, I’m highlighting a very small but positive development. Municipal officials in Bhojpur district in the country’s east started a programme in January to visit new mothers.
According to the The Himalayan Times newspaper, local health workers in Arun Rural Municipality check the health of mother and child and provide material support that can include rice, baby clothes, 500 rupees (about 4.5 US dollars) and – in a local twist – a rooster.
The visits are important because only 57% of women in Nepal give birth in hospitals and other facilities, reported the Kathmandu Post. As the Post pointed out, for every 100,000 births in Nepal, 229 women die during or after childbirth. That is a huge reduction since 1996, when the rate was 539 per 100,000 births.
However, the country’s next target is to cut the rate to 125 per 100,000 births by 2020. According to an official interviewed by the Post, that target will be missed unless post-natal deaths of women can be reduced.
A short-term concern is lack of a budget to finance cash incentives. In January health facilities stopped providing the money – which can amount to as much as 3,800 rupees (34 US dollars) – to encourage woman to give birth in facilities since January, reported the Post.
Health Ministry officials say the issue is just a temporary cash crunch.