COVID-19: News, mainly from Nepal, 27 March

Migrant workers in India, carrying bundles and containers in their hands and on their heads, leave the capital Delhi for their villages, on foot.

Migrant workers in India leave the capital Delhi for their villages, on foot. © Tribhuvan Tiwari/ Outlook India

India — Hit By Coronavirus Lockdown, 90-Year-old Kajodi Trudges Home, 400 Km Away

Thousands of migrant workers are leaving cities after the central government announced a three-week nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. — Outlook India

Nepal Supreme Court refuses to order government to repatriate migrant workers

The Supreme Court refused to issue interim order sought by advocates Madhav Kumar Basnet and Mina Khadka Basent to allow Nepali citizens stranded in foreign countries, including India, to return home. — The Himalayan Times

No exceptions with COVID-19: “Everyone has the right to life-saving interventions” – UN experts say

GENEVA (26 March 2020) – The COVID-19 crisis cannot be solved with public health and emergency measures only; all other human rights must be addressed too, UN human rights experts* said today. — UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

 

COVID-19: News, mainly from Nepal

Hello. There is so much information available on Covid-19 that I’m reluctant to add more, but a lot of it is good (or really bad) so I’m going to start sharing pieces that are already online. I’ll do this for a couple of days and if I see that people are interested I’ll continue.

Daily wage workers are more worried about starving to death than Covid-19

Most worker households are likely to have enough supplies and savings for a week but if the lockdown is to continue, they will need government’s help, activists say — Kathmandu Post

Protecting those who protect us from the epidemic

Hospital staff in Nepal at the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19 lack protective gear —Nepali Times

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Nepal locked down, now what?

Traffic in Kathmandu hours before a 'lockdown' was announced on 23 March 2020

Hours before a week-long ‘lockdown’ was announced in Nepal on 23 March 2020 some shops in the capital Kathmandu were open and traffic was permitted. Since 24 March only essential movement is allowed. © Marty Logan

My latest for Nepali Times:

Transparency. Concealing information fuels conspiracies, rumour-mongering and the ‘fake news’.

Marty Logan
March 24, 2020

Full marks to the Nepal government for imposing the much tougher lockdown that we are living under since 6AM today. As of Monday afternoon it was still possible for Kathmanduites to get a suit tailor-made, meet friends for chiya and chat, or celebrate a birthday at a favourite restaurant. That made no sense: pandemics demand much more than half-measures.

Inexplicably the coronavirus has not walloped Nepal yet while it has devastated countries from our northern neighbour China to Italy and the United States. With only two confirmed cases here  we need to learn from those sad examples. Keeping people at home under lockdown will go a long way towards ensuring that no further social transmission occurs. Continue reading

Covid-19, Nepal and the hygiene hypothesis

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Children at a government school in western Nepal eating lunch. © Marty Logan

This article was published on the Nepali Times website on Monday, and got a huge amount of interest (9,000+ page views in less than 24 hours). There was a lot of criticism, at least on Twitter, that the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ that is discussed should not have been broached now because it has not been scientifically proven.
I disagree because the idea has been floating around and discussed informally since the outbreak began, and I think it’s better that it be given a public airing than ignored. What do readers think?

“It just doesn’t make sense!” You might have heard this phrase more than once lately in the context of Nepal and COVID-19: next to the epicentre in Wuhan and host to a large number of Chinese tourists and residents, this country has still only recorded one case of the coronavirus, and the person recovered. How can that be?

You might also have heard, and scoffed, at the rumour that Nepalis have superior immune systems. ‘Nepali people have a stronger immunity power’ was one reason given in this article for why COVID-19 has not hit the country yet. As time goes on and the number of cases remains at just one, could there actually be something to the claim? Continue reading

Positive news on deadly form of menstrual banishment in Nepal

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A discussion with community health workers at Bayalpata Hospital about chhaupadi. ©Nyaya Health Nepal

Chhaupadi is the traditional practice in parts of rural western Nepal of segregating women and girls outdoors when they have their periods. In the past decade, more than a dozen women have been killed while staying in a chhau (shed), some from a snakebite, others after lighting a fire to say warm then suffocating in a windowless building. Women and girls in sheds are also at risk of sexual assault.

In recent years there has been increasing focus on chhaupadi, including various attempts to end it, such as demolishing sheds, criminalising the practice and threatening to withhold social security payments from anyone involved in the practice. I wrote the article below for Nepali Times after learning that one hospital in the region has had great success in getting its community nurses to discontinue chhaupadi.

Tipping point on menstrual banishment in Nepal

It is easy to be cynical about recent reports of actions taken to end chhaupadi, the traditional practice in parts of western Nepal of segregating menstruating women.

Continue reading

Lured by green, in Kathmandu

Green Dilibazar

Photo: Marty Logan

One of Kathmandu’s biggest defects is the lack of green spaces. Luckily I’ve found one. It’s tiny, and certainly not where you would expect it, but its positive impact is huge. In fact, for many years now I’ve been fortunate to enjoy nature in different forms. in many cities.

I wrote more about this in this week’s Nepali Times:

The lure of green

When I’ve had enough of the smog, barking dogs, crowds and cacophony of Kathmandu I seek out my ‘oasis’, a small piece of green real estate that, I’m sure, slows my heartbeat and lowers my blood pressure on sight in — Dilibazar.

Yes, that’s right, Dilibazar, one of the oldest suburbs of 20th-century Kathmandu, once known for its sweet shops and the derelict Charkhal Jail, but today recognisable by the educational consultancies and their billboards — ‘Study in Australia, Canada, Cyprus, England, Greece, Ireland! — that have spilled onto its streets from Putali Sadak. It’s definitely not the first place that comes to mind when you think of Kathmandu and nature. Continue reading

Shorter, not fatter

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A child eating at a Mother’s Group meeting devoted to nutritious feeding, in Nepal’s Achham district in 2018. Photo: Marty Logan

A study finding that infants in Kathmandu are getting 25% of their calories from junk foods was a major talking point in Nepal last week.

Looking at the article in The Journal of Nutrition, it is also surprising that among the 700 or so kids studied, the group who ate the most junk food were shorter than the average, not fatter as might be expected.

Shorter than average is a description of stunting, a major marker of childhood malnutrition. Decades ago Nepal had extremely high rates of stunting, which is also an indicator of a country’s development, but managed to reduce it greatly. Still, the country is not on track to meet the 2030 target of the Sustainable Development Goals: 15% of children under 5 stunted.

Below is my article published today in Nepali Times, online.

Continue reading