Although Nepal has made a steady progress in reducing child mortality, a large number of children still die before reaching the age of five. People in more than 13 districts signed 100,000 letters pledging “My Voice for Children’s Lives” which calls upon policy makers for sufficient resources to ensure all children live beyond their fifth birthday. The letters focus on raising awareness for the simple solutions that can dramatically reduce preventable child deaths. Today these were jointly handed over to Constituent Assembly members from different political parties.
Organized by National Maternal and Child Health Alliance, the function was the first of its kind to raise awareness about the overall state of child health. The letter campaign led by the National Maternal and Child Health Alliance commenced on 8 March 2014 with public events across Nepal to mark the occasion of International Women’s Day and ended on 1 May, International Labor Day, 2014.
The campaign to sign the letters was led by the National Maternal and Child Health Alliance and commenced on 8 March with public events across Nepal to mark International Women’s Day and ended on 1 May, International Labour Day. In the handing over event, Badri Prasad Pande, CA member, Nepali Congress said, “We will direct the Health and Women, Children and Social Welfare ministries through the parliamentary committee to allocate sufficient resources for children’s health.” Kamala BK, another CA member, CPN (ML) said, “The government allocates 6.6% of its budget in health yet there are no monitoring mechanisms which leads to poor health of children. We will highlight the need to make child health a priority through our efforts as lawmakers.” Pushkar Khati, Campaign Specialist for World Vision International Nepal, supporting the alliance said, “The campaign has reached more than 1,000 policy makers, including members of parliament, government officials, civil society organisations and other stakeholders at the local level and many politicians have agreed to invest more in health as a result. It’s a call to relevant stakeholders to join hands to improve the maternal and child health scenario in Nepal.”
“Diarrhoea, acute respiratory infection and measles are responsible for the many under-five deaths in Nepal. The young, the helpless - those under the age of five die silently, needlessly, far from the light of media attention. It does not have to be this way. We are not prepared to wait and watch these lives being lost when we know the solutions.
These children’s lives can be saved by simple, tried and tested interventions giving them a chance to survive their first five years. Under-five mortality has declined from 61 to 54 deaths per 1000 in the last fifteen years in Nepal. Considerable progress has been made but more investment and an increased focus on the most vulnerable children is needed if survival is to be the reality for all children. As individuals we can push for more action like this. We know it is possible and we need to see action by leaders.” he added.
The letter was drafted through several national and community level consultations with decision makers and community stakeholders including children. Nepali Congress Parliament member Bir Bahadur Balayar has committed to allocate the resources from the parliamentarian’s development fund to improve the situation of mothers and children in the Doti District. Nepal Communist Party United Marxist and Leninist Parliament member Prem Bahadur Aley also committed to lobby the health minister to raise the number of health workers and the quality of life-saving equipment in local healthcare facilities. The success of the letter campaign comes as the world gears up for the final push to the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals in December 2015.