As the international community focuses its attention on India, a similar crisis is unfolding in neighboring Nepal. Public hospitals are overwhelmed. In Nepal's capital of Kathmandu, the best private hospitals are turning away patients for lack of beds, supplies, and equipment. Patients are dying at home and outside hospitals as they await admission. In rural areas, where there are no hospitals, people are dying at home without ever being diagnosed or treated.
Nearly 50% of Covid-19 tests are coming back positive as cases continue to rise above 455,000, with more than 5,000 Covid-19-related deaths reported. Experts predict 40,000 deaths by the beginning of July, a projected per-capital toll worse than any other country in South or Southeast Asia. Only 1.27% of the country's nearly 30 million residents are fully vaccinated.
The surge of patients coming to health facilities has increased the demand for medical oxygen, ventilators, test kits, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line workers, with most facilities facing a critical shortage of supplies, as well as sickness and deaths of medical staff and patients.
Vulnerable people more at risk
“Imagine what this sort of crisis means for older people and people with disabilities, who are more likely to get infected and suffer more severe symptoms and complications from Covid-19," says Reiza Dejito, Humanity & Inclusion's director for Nepal. “It impacts them in two ways because they find it difficult to move or find help. Strict lockdown measures also very often result in a loss of income and limited access to health and social welfare services. Vulnerable people are therefore more at risk.”
Need for accessible information
As the pandemic worsens, needs are growing. The lack of accessible and accurate information for families means people are unaware of Covid-19 risks and the need to protect themselves, get tested and vaccinated. People living in rural areas and urban slums do not have access to clean water, soap or masks. Mental health risks are also very high. The crisis, illness, death and isolation have increased the vulnerability of the population as a whole.
During the first wave of Covid-19 in 2020, Humanity & Inclusion provided more than 15,000 families—or nearly 90,000 people—in Nepal with support. In response to this latest wave, Humanity & Inclusion again plans to improve access to communication by developing and sharing information on Covid-19 risks, prevention and response. This will include information in accessible formats such as Braille, and the use of local languages.
Teams also plan to distribute hygiene kits and promote hygiene practices to new isolation and quarantine facilities, isolated communities, and vulnerable individuals. Humanity & Inclusion plans to distribute food and provide care to older people, people suffering chronic diseases, pregnant people, people with disabilities, and others. Teams are also expected to provide mental health and psychosocial support to assist frontline healthcare workers, people with disabilities, vulnerable people and their families. Humanity & Inclusion is referring at-risk people to services provided by government agencies and partners, and may help them get to and from health facilities for testing, treatment and vaccinations.
Humanity & Inclusion's Covid-19 response
Humanity & Inclusion 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.