A second wave of Covid-19 continues to overpower Nepal’s population and resources. Hospitals are ill equipped and understaffed, with insufficient space and materials to meet the heightened demand for care.
Providing the essentials
In an urgent response, HI’s team in Nepal is preparing to support government hospitals with the most vital supplies, such as Personal Prevention Equipment (PPE), oxygen monitors, and masks among other medical supplies. They will continue the Covid-19 intervention projects that have been in place since the initial 2020 wave, including the distribution of hygiene kits, promotion of sanitary practices and assisting partner organizations with food aid for people with limited access. These initiatives have already benefitted nearly 90,000 people in Nepal.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the country has reported over 566,000 confirmed cases and over 7,000 Covid-related deaths since January 2020. Strict government restrictions were set in place in an effort to end the most recent wave. After an alarming peak a few short weeks ago saw over 1,200 deaths in a single day, the number of Covid-19 positive cases is finally starting to fall. However, experts stress that the situation remains dire, as the infection rate still hovers above 34%.
“People with disabilities and elderly people are more likely to be affected,”
says Reiza Dejito, HI’s director for Nepal.
“They are often the first to be isolated when Covid-restrictions are in place, and therefore don’t have access to essential goods or care.”
Making information accessible
While rates may be decreasing in urban areas, this is not the case for the more rural regions of the country, where the number of infections is likely even higher than reports indicate. Lack of access to information and the stigma associated with Covid-19 has deterred people in these areas from being tested, and often people hide their symptoms or deny them. This leads many to seek hospital care only once symptoms become severe, which is one reason medical oxygen needs continue to rise despite an overall decrease in infections.
In an effort to raise awareness and increase information accessibility, HI is implementing risk education initiatives throughout the nation. Along with a partner organization, HI has developed Covid-19 prevention messages aimed particularly at informing people with disabilities. One such message is a video broadcast to 75% of Nepal’s population, explaining virus prevention protocol and care in both the local language and sign language.
Continuing our mission
Amidst the health crisis, HI specialists are continuing to provide vital rehabilitation care for people with disabilities in our physical therapy units and alongside local partners. This is increasingly important, as overworked medical facilities and government restrictions limit access to other care services. Teams are also providing mental health and psychosocial support to assist frontline healthcare workers, people with disabilities, vulnerable people and their families at this difficult time.
HI teams around the world have been responding to the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020. Donors helped launch more than 170 Covid-19 projects in dozens of countries to protect and care for the people that others overlook. Between March and August 2020, staff have reached 2.2 million people with care and aid to keep Covid-19 at bay.