while a physical therapist examines the boy's leg. They are all wearing masks
COVID-19

Nepal endures lingering pandemic emergency

Resources are proving insufficient as Nepal faces a surge in Covid-19 outbreaks. Humanity & Inclusion teams in the country are responding with vital supplies and accessible risk education. 

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, Humanity & Inclusion’s team in Nepal is preparing to support government hospitals with the most vital supplies at this time, such as personal protective equipment, oxygen monitors, and masks among other medical items. Staff 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 benefited nearly 90,000 people in Nepal. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the country has reported more than 566,000 confirmed cases and over 7,000 Covid-related deaths since January 2020. Strict government restrictions are in place to curb the most recent wave. After an alarming peak a few short weeks ago saw more than 1,200 deaths in a single week, the number of Covid-19 positive cases is finally starting to fall. However, experts stress that the situation remains dire, as the infection rate hovers above 34%. 

“People with disabilities and elderly people are more likely to be affected,” says Reiza Dejito, Humanity & Inclusion’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.”

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Making information accessible

While rates may be decreasing in Nepal's urban areas, this is not the case in rural regions, 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, in part causing an increased need for medical oxygen despite a decrease in infections.

In an effort to raise awareness and increase information accessibility, Humanity & Inclusion is implementing risk education initiatives. Along with a partner organization, Humanity & Inclusion has developed Covid-19 prevention messages to reach 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, Humanity & Inclusion specialists continue to provide vital rehabilitation care for people with disabilities in 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.

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.

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Image: A young boy and his mother attend a rehabilitation session in Nepal in November 2020. Copyright: HI