Despite making progress in child health, large numbers of Nepalese children living in the far-western region are yet to find a real respite. Although the child mortality rate has declined drastically in Nepal, disparity is growing by region and ethnicity. At a time when there is the need of some sort of intervention to end the gap, World Vision International Nepal has come for the mission through the Campaign for Child Health.
World Vision International Nepal has launched a four-year nationwide Child Health Now Campaign that aims to contribute to reduce child mortality in disadvantaged areas of Nepal in line with Millennium Development Goal 4.
Within Child Health Now Campaign, World Vision International Nepal will work at the national level and district levels focusing in Doti and Kailali districts. The outcomes of the program will be improved Maternal Child Health systems and practices of government, improved mobilization and influence of civil society, with significant actors for policy influence to reach the most disadvantaged children in Nepal, and improved community Maternal Child Health practices.
According to World Vision International, child Health Now is World Vision’s first global campaign focused on a single issue which is to reduce the preventable deaths of children under five. Every three second one child dies in the world as a result of diarrhea, pneumonia, childbirth complications and malaria which are all preventable.
"Child health in Nepal has made some significant progress, and is on the positive track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Less than five mortality is a very sensitive indicator which has reduced in Nepal from 118 to 54 per 1000 live births in the past 20 years," said Michael Frank, country director World Vision International Nepal.
"However, disparities by gender, caste/ethnicity, and geographic locations prevail. Dalits had under five mortality rate of 90 deaths per 1,000 live births compared with an all-Nepal level of 68 (MOHP 2007, NFHP 2010). Fewer than five mortality rates range from 87 in the mountains to 58 per 1,000 live births in the hills. Infant mortality is highest in the far western region with 65 deaths and lowest in the Eastern region with 47 deaths per 1,000 live births. In Nepal, 63 percent of births still take place at home, with 11 and 40 percent of women being assisted by traditional birth attendants and relatives respectively (NDHS 2011). Institutional deliveries range from a low of 29 percent in the far western and mid western regions to a high of 40 percent in the Eastern region. "Only one-third (36 percent) of births take place with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant (SBA)," said Frank, country director World Vision International Nepal.
In such a scenario, Nepal has a long way to go to ensure equitable access to quality health care. Thus, reach of essential health services among people of different caste and ethnic groups, geographic regions, gender, economic status must be on the top priority of the government and non-government sectors.
"The campaign will focus on Far-West community level initiatives to establish evidence based advocacy efforts, to pressurize local and national government bodies. The campaign will assist communities to raise their voices to right to quality health care, and drive government meet their responsibilities towards children, mothers, families and communities of the disadvantaged area," said Frank.
Along with two ministers, leaders of three major political parties mainly UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML also expressed their commitment to work together with INGOs and NGOs to end the disparities.
It was officially launched by Minister for Health and Population. Rajendra Mahato. Minister for Women Children and Social Welfare, Badri Prasad Neupane, also attended the launch. They raised the hands for children and committed to end disparities by gender, caste, ethnicity, and geographic locations in terms of child health.
Along with the ministers, concerned stakeholders, political party members, civil society and development community members were also present in the program.
Addressing the program, minister Mahato said, "The Government of Nepal cannot alone achieve the MDG goals; so support from non-government organizations is very important, and we would like to see the government making health a priority by increasing the budget in the health sector from 7 to 10%.’ He added, "The health ministry has also planned to add 150 birthing centers every year in different remote VDCs of the country for safer deliveries. We are also planning to revise the health policy which is twenty years old and this will also address problems like lack of human resources in this field."
The official launch was followed by expert paper presentations and discussions on community maternal and child health, nutritional practices and effective strategies for behavior change, existing Government plans, policies on maternal child health and scope of improvement to reach the most disadvantaged community, government health system, and practices on maternal and child health.
"The ministry is ready to work with INGOs and NGOs in the areas like in child health. Nepal needs this kind of programs to reduce the disparities existed in the regions and communities", said Minister Neupane.