Model Village Project (Arupokhari, Gorkha)
The Model Village Project (MVP) is a RMF pilot initiative in Nepal that aims to contribute to the improvement of education, health and livelihoods of the community in Gorkha through support of the schools, health posts and other community-based institutions. The project is based in Arupokhari, one of the villages in Gorkha, where RMF has started supporting the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the village. Gorkha district was the epicenter of the earthquake where over 91% of houses have been irrevocably damaged, along with over 95% of schools and 90% of health facilities. Arupokhari is a remote village in Northern Gorkha, which is close to the epicenter of the April 25th Mega Earthquake. Out of 1,350 households, 1,226 houses have been completely destroyed in this village.
- As part of the RMF health program in Gorkha, two health officers have been employed to run the clinic and provide overall management and operational support. The health staff are:
1. BISHNU PRASAD SHARMA, CMA
Clinical Officer, Nepal
Bishnu Prasad Sharma is our Clinical Officer working under the Gorkha health clinic program carried out by RMF Nepal. He has several years of experience of working as village health worker under the Community Development Health Program (CDHP) organized by the UN Mission in the Chapagaun Health Post in the Lalitpur district of Nepal. For over 16 years, he ran a health clinic in Lumjung district catering to the health care and needs of the rural population.
Likewise, he also has many years of experience working at health clinics run by an INGO in Gorkha district wherein he was responsible for providing medical treatments for around 55 people per day from three different VDCs (Arupokhari, Tamling, and Deurali). He has also served as an Assistant Health Worker in government health posts of Dhankuta district.
Bishnu will provide various health care services to patients at the RMF Gorkha Health Clinic. He will lead and undertake day-to-day clinical duties such as walk-in clinic, emergencies, pre-placement, medical examinations and immunizations, and will also work towards ensuring increased access of targeted earthquake-affected populations, especially from remote areas and surrounding VDCs of Arupokhari, Gorkha to curative, preventive and health promotion services.
2. KRISHNA BAHADUR BARAM
Health Clinic Assistant, Nepal
Krishna Bahadur Baram is our Health Clinic Assistant working at the RMF Health Clinic in Gorkha district, the epicentre of the earthquake. Prior to this, he was working for the health clinic in Gorkha for over 6 years as Health Clinic Assistant. He has experiences of providing primary health care services to the local community and providing assistance to the Health Officer. Similarly, he has worked at several other health clinics as clinical assistant.
Krishna will assist the Clinical Officer in the overall management of the clinic, including providing day-to-day administrative, operational support and handling daily financial activities. His responsibilities include attending and managing patients at the Gorkha Health Clinic. He will provide support in undertaking clinical duties such as medical examinations and immunizations, including taking proactive measures during medical emergency situations. Moreover, he will be contributing in developing and disseminating Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on primary health care and services.
- RMF team visited Arupokhari VDC in January wherein we’ve started with our support through the RMF Health Clinic to provide critical medical care and support to the most marginalized. A committee was formed during the visit, consisting of 11 members, representing various aspects of the society – for example, Principal of the local school and VDC Secretary are on the advisory board. Local community social worker was nominated as the President of the Committee. This committee will provide advisory and other support to the clinic and will be key actors in any future RMF initiative in the area. The formation of the committee through democratic processes, ensuring representation from women and different ethnic groups and marginalized communities, will also contribute to enhancing local leadership and ensuring community ownership.
- We have procured medicines and adequate supplies to address the local needs. However, due to the earthquake the current building where we are operating is temporary shelter. Plans are underway to construct a building for the clinic. Similarly, adding some facilities to ensure that community people get basic medical care and services without having to reach the nearby hospital which is at least 3-4 hours’ drive from the area is also being considered.
- Some urgent needs that were raised during the community meeting were establishment of a simple laboratory to carry out minor blood sampling and tests. At the moment, delay in diagnosis and referral seem to be prime causes of mortality and morbidity. To tackle this, a simple lab to carry out basic tests was voiced as a need. Another main need of the community seems to be lack of birthing centers in the area. After the earthquake, most of the birthing centers in and around the area were completely destroyed. To improve the maternal and child mortality rate, the community requested for the possibility of establishing of a birthing center.
- RMF supported and financed a pre-fab house for the school’s teachers that has been installed in the school. Lack of quality education is often accorded to lack of well-qualified teachers in the rural areas. The school has placed three qualified teachers, hired from the Kathmandu area and placed at the school for a good salary. The presence of these teachers is essential to the school, as the standard of the education and the children’s performances have been significantly raised after bringing them in. However, the school had faced challenges in teachers’ retention due to lack of safe housing facilities. Therefore, this pre-fab house will not only provide a safe and quality housing option to the teachers but will also contribute to boost their morale, which has been severely affected due to the earthquake and the following aftershocks. We aim that this support will contribute to the overall improvement of children’s performance at the school.
Orphanage Support and Support to the Nepal Children’s Organisation
RMF is supporting Nepal Children’s Organisation (NCO) to improve the current conditions of the children at their orphanages, particularly to improve the health, nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene status of the children.
The 25th April earthquake in Nepal caused significant damage and destruction to buildings and infrastructure, one of which was the 83 year old building of Nepal Children's Organization (NCO), rendering children in the orphanage homeless once again.
- Our residential nurses at the orphanage have been actively engaged in providing health care and support to the children. The following updates have been provided by them from the orphanage on their activities:
- Maintain the health condition of the children by doing daily dressing of their wounds, eye care, ear care, providing the medicine on the time.
- Due to the winter, many children are suffering from the common cold. So we provided health education on how we can combat the cold by homely remedies such as the ginger, boil water with turmeric powder and salt for gargle, and best suggestion to them to wear warm clothes and stay warm.
- An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the brain was done in the case of a small boy, Gambir Balak, as he didn’t show the proper body movements as per the his age. The MRI report was normal. However, the doctor recommended daily physiotherapy. Therefore, we are providing daily physiotherapy for Gambir according to the doctor’s instructions.
- Vitamin D check-up was carried out in the case of Saun Balak as his leg is curved. The report was normal. The range should be between 30 to 100, and his report shows that his is 35 which is almost in the normal range. The doctor recommended Vitamin D supplementation for Saun to prevent rickets.
- We approached Sushma Memorial Hospital Shakhu for the case of macrodactyly of a girl at the orphanage, Sapna Balika. The doctor postponed her operation because of a fungal infection of a leg wound she has. He prescribed an ointment for the wound and has recommended for us to come visit him after the wound has healed to proceed with the surgery.
- Ankit Balak who has a cleft palate and an anorectal malformation was checked in at the B & B Hospital in Kathmandu, and the doctor suggested carrying out his operation after his weight would reach 10 kg; currently his weight is only 4 kg (he is malnourished and we’ve been working for the last 3 months to improve his health condition and nutritional status). So his operation is also postponed until his weight reaches 10 kg. We also approached the Nutrition Center to help improve his weight and they suggested us to provide him a BelVita and nutrition diet with his meals.
- We celebrated Christmas and the New Year with our lovely children with lots of fun.
- RMF will be constructing earthquake resistant houses for children at the NCO as safe housing for them is of immediate need. With the recommendation from engineers and designers, the plan is to construct three prefabricated house within the premise of Balmandir. We are currently in the process of seeking approvals for building design and construction from the government departments such as local municipality office and District Development Committee.
Rebuilding and Long-Term Support to Schools and Model Village in Sindhupalchowk
Real Medicine Foundation has partnered with Seven Summits Women and White Girl In Nepal to reconstruct schools, health posts and other damaged public structures in Bhotenamlang, Sindhupalchowk to provide immediate relief and long-term support to the people of Sindhupalchowk district, one of the areas significantly affected by the earthquake.
- 2,064 students from 8 schools are receiving afternoon meals.
- A visit to Sindhupalchowk, Bhotenamlang VDC was carried out wherein afternoon meal supplies were delivered to schools of Bhotenamlang VDC & Thangpaldhap VDC (Kshetrapaleshwari HSS, Bhotenamlang Secondary School, Bachhalamai Primary School, Thangpaldhap HSS).
- During the visit, the impact of the afternoon meal program was discussed. It was found that the afternoon meal program has been very effective which is aided by the fact that the number of students attending school regularly has been consistent (especially at the primary level) and the number of students has also increased. The teachers remarked that the students were in better health because of the meals provided. They added that the meal support has aided in the rehabilitation of students after the earthquake at such widely affected areas. Teachers remarked that due to the afternoon meal program students were now voluntarily attending school rather than being forced by their parents.
- One of the students, Devaki Danwar from class 10, age 15, from Danwar Gaun shared her experience about the afternoon meal program. Previously she did not have anything for tiffin. She faces lack of nutritious food at home. She is very happy about the afternoon meals and says she likes ‘rice pudding’ the most. On be asked about any improvements to make on the meal program, she told that different variety each day would be nice.
- According to the Principal Mr. Gopi Krishna Parajuli of Bhotenamlang School, Chiling, some impact of the afternoon meal program are:
- Previously students preferred to go home at lunch break and many of them didn’t return; this tendency has come to an end as students eagerly wait for meals and stay at school for the full period.
- The number of students has increased significantly (unregistered students, especially in primary level).
- Registered students attend school regularly.
- Students are very happy considering the nutritious food which some of the students can rarely afford to have at home due to their poor economic condition.
- Foods like beaten rice with curry, rice pudding and flour pudding (Semolina or Halwa) are popular among students. Especially students of the primary level are very eager to attend school aided with the motive of having lunch.
- Many unregistered students of very young age just come to school with spoon and tiffin box with their siblings and stay till half time to have tiffin and then return home. This also has aided by improving earthquake affected children’s habit of attending school even before reaching school age rather than just playing around at home.
- When asked for any improvements to be made for the program, some suggested that more varieties of food such as tea, biscuit would be a good addition.
Support to Social Actions Volunteers (SAV) at Kanti Children's Hospital
The Only Referral Level Children's Hospital of Nepal
Kanti Children’s Hospital is the only government referral level Children’s Hospital of Nepal. The hospital was established in 1963 as a general hospital with 50 beds, and today has a capacity of 320 beds. The hospital treats children up to the age of 14 from all over the country, a total target population of 13-14 million children.
RMF is supporting Social Action Volunteers (SAV), a non-governmental organization established in 1988, to serve the neediest patients of Kanti Children’s Hospital and their families. SAV provides various support programs to long term care (two weeks or longer) patients and their caregivers on the non-paying ward of Kanti Children’s Hospital. Services and programs take various forms ranging from medicines, blood, investigation, transportation and food supplements for patients and their companions, shelter for family members, cooking facilities for families or complete coverage of both patient and family members.
- Provided free medicines, supplements, medical tests, lodging, food and other hospital requirements for selected poor and needy patients of Kanti Children's Hospital and their families who have been referred to them by the admitting physician at the hospital after an initial economic assessment of the patient.
- Provided guidance to the parents of sick children regarding proper use of hospital facilities, health education, sanitation, pharmacy and others.
- Helped patients get available facilities of the hospital like X-rays and lab tests.
- Provided financial support and other arrangements such as transportation for patients who require services outside the hospital such as MRI and CT scans.
- Organized blood donation program and maintained blood bank withdrawing units of blood as required to the patients.
- Managed kitchen at the hospital where patients and families from paying and non-paying wards can use them free of cost.
- Managed a playroom and library at the hospital for patients and their siblings.
- Managed a clothes bank for needy patients and their families.
- Provided nutrition support to children admitted at the Oncology and Malnourished Ward at the hospital.
- Managed and mobilized the volunteers of SAV and Kanti Children's Hospital, giving them an opportunity to assist patients and their families, conduct health oriented programs such as health camps, workshops or seminars, and organize fundraisers.
- Distribution of relief package to earthquake victims in Sindhupalchowk was organized.
Nepal Earthquake Relief
Sindhupalchowk is one of the worst earthquake affected districts with highest casualty rates and deaths due to the disaster. Nepal is still reeling under the crisis since 25 April, 2015 after it was hit by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake and several aftershocks, and the situation is worsened by the blockade for the last 5 months, leading to critical shortages of fuel, supplies and medicines. More recently, earthquake affected people started dying due to cold related illnesses after spending nights outside in their temporary tents. Providing warm clothes and necessary supplies has become more urgent than ever.
On 10th January, SAV in collaboration with RMF organized a trip to Sindhupalchowk’s earthquake affected areas to support the local people and community with warm clothes and blankets as recently many earthquake victims started dying due to the cold in this winter. The program was organized by SAV (RMF is providing regular support in their activities and programs).
- Shawls for women
- Shirts, pants, sweaters and jackets (for men and women)
- Baby suits (for boy and girls)
The RMF team along with SAV carried out the visit for distribution of the relief packages. The program was attended by Member of Parliament, Mr. Sher Bahadur Tamang , doctors and SAV volunteers.
Partnership with MOHP, UNFPA, WHO and GIZ to Foster Midwifery Education in Nepal
Discussions with UNFPA for a partnership to support Professional Midwifery education in Nepal are being finalized wherein RMF will be part of the "Collaborative Partnership Agreement for Supporting Midwifery Education and Cadre in Nepal" between Ministry of Health and Population, UNFPA, GIZ and WHO.
After the earthquake, up to 90% of health facilities in many rural areas are known to be damaged or destroyed. For example, in Rasuwa district, up to 78% of district health facilities are reported to be completely demolished, and only two health posts remain functional.
Hospitals in district capitals, including Kathmandu, have been overwhelmed, medical supplies severely depleted and capacities overstretched. Out of a total of 352 birthing centers, 115 were totally damaged and 137 partially damaged. Overall, the April 25 earthquake affected some 8 million people, including 2 million women of reproductive age and over 126,000 pregnant women.
Even before the earthquake, out of an estimated total population of 27.5 million, 23 million (84%) were living in rural areas and 7.4 million (27%) were women of reproductive age in 2012; the total fertility rate was 2.3. By 2030, the population is projected to increase by 20% to 32.9 million.
To achieve universal access to sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn care, midwifery services must respond to 0.9 million pregnancies per annum by 2030, 85% of these in rural settings. The health system implications include how best to configure and equitably deploy the sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health (SRMNH) workforce to cover at least 70.2 million antenatal visits, 10.9 million births and 43.7 million post-partum/postnatal visits between 2012 and 2030. (UNFPA, 2014) There is a dearth of professional midwives to cater to the current and growing need; their roles will be instrumental in improving maternal and child health in rural areas.
In this context, a MOU has been signed between 4 universities by UNFPA and MOHP, which includes introducing Midwifery education as a different faculty in their universities as a professionally accredited course. Likewise, a draft Bachelor's degree curriculum on Midwifery has been drafted and will be tailored by the universities to suit their interests and this curriculum will be approved by the NNC (Nepal Nursing Council).
UNFPA recently had a meeting with the Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) to further the process and a meeting has been called by the MOHP, inviting all partner organizations to sign the agreement.
RMF has finalized the components of the agreement and has taken up the elements as per our objectives and expertise, especially addressing human resources and infrastructural needs. The following represents RMF’s components of support in the "Collaborative Partnership Agreement for Supporting Midwifery Education and Cadre in Nepal":
Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) has been working around the globe in close collaboration with governments, ministries, donor agencies, international development partners and local stakeholders to improve the quality of and access to professional health care services and intends to contribute for the same in Nepal too.
RMF has co-founded and established the first ever accredited College of Nursing and Midwifery in South Sudan, the Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery (JCONAM); the college offers a 3-year diploma for Registered Nursing and Midwifery. Through the provision of trained and qualified nurses and midwives, it is aimed to fill the gap of professional skilled healthcare services in the country. In particular, RMF is supporting through sponsorships of students, provision of skills and laboratory equipment, clinical training equipment, IT equipment, capacity enhancement of the faculty and investments in infrastructure as required.
RMF is committed to long-term sustainable solutions towards addressing high maternal mortality and infant mortality by increasing access to and quality of human resources for health. In this context, RMF welcomes the initiation to foster midwifery education in Nepal.
RMF intends to contribute in the following areas, which will be finalized in the very near future following discussions with the government of Nepal, partner organizations, concerned universities and other stakeholders:
- Development and strengthening of faculty in the chosen universities and educational institutions in close collaboration with the MOH, UNFPA, WHO and GIZ, which include:
- Supporting the universities in recruiting faculty members
- Contributing to the remuneration of the technical staffs
- Sponsoring trainings, capacity building/skills development programs for the faculty members
- Supporting students from economically and socially disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds through:
- Scholarships to needy students
- Covering accommodation costs and potentially providing stipends to selected students
- Investments in necessary physical infrastructure and equipment support to one selected university.
Community Outreach Program to Improve Maternal and Child Health Care
The proposed plan is to launch a Community Outreach Program in areas with high maternal and child mortality rates, and poor health quality. We will be working in close coordination with existing groups in rural settings working to promote public health, such as Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) and Mothers’ Groups.
Through a partnership with the District Department of Women and Child Development, RMF aims to provide capacity building and support to FCHVs to hold monthly community health and nutrition awareness and training sessions, and assist FCHVs to conduct home visits for one-on-one counseling especially regarding maternal health and child nutrition.
RMF will also train and form Community Health Educators (CHEs) Groups, comprising mostly of women and prioritizing those from marginalized communities, to promote maternal and child health at the district and VDC (Village Development Committees) level.
CNEs will aim to address one of the key challenges of lack of referrals as well as follow-up on referrals to ensure that all identified severely malnourished children are admitted and that feeding and care practices for moderately malnourished children have improved as per the IYCF (Infant and Young Child Feeding) counseling. The project will be guided through three approaches: Identification, Treatment, and Prevention.
Following the latest WHO recommended method for screening for malnutrition, RMF will train the already existing groups in the community who have a strong presence and can ensure community ownership. A smaller group from the existing group can be created called ‘Self-Help Group’ which would consist of, FCHVs, RMF CHEs, Health Workers, women leaders in the community and also men’s groups to use MUAC to identify malnutrition in the community. Children that have been screened positive for malnutrition will be enrolled in CMAM services where they can be rehabilitated.
Lack of awareness on existing government subsidies and other incentives has also hindered people from accessing the services. RMF CHEs can fill these gaps in the referral system by making communities aware of these services and offering tools to facilitate communication and monitor the system.
RMF Nepal will replicate a very successful referral model used by RMF India. This includes tracking referrals using a triplicate referral form that will provide a tracking method that is both low technology and low resource intensive.
We are liaising with the various government, non-government, I/NGOs and local stakeholders for the development of new and tailored and/or the usage of existing resources to aware the local community about issues such as maternal nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation. Through documentaries/video presentations, we will also provide successful models/ initiations in other VDCs/ districts.
Preventive approaches will also include participation of extended family, focus on the most at-risk moderately malnourished children, and promoting greater access to local weaning and complementary foods. Our prevention approaches will also include providing local communities with knowledge on how to solve and avoid problems regarding nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, empowering local communities to avoid these problems by themselves. Lessons will be imparted using various audio, video, pictorial and demonstrative (especially for cooking) means.
RMF India has developed a very innovative and advanced approach to engage communities and families with malnourished children, expand reach of the RMF CHEs and increase awareness among the community. Among others, the RMF India team uses mobile phones, through the installation of apps to track cases, assist in counseling families, record keeping, effective monitory, referral mechanisms and likewise. The application on the phone guides CHEs step by step through their interactions with a family, which include audio and visual prompts to help them with advice topics. The information that is collected on the phones is recorded in a nearby remote server. Moreover, community-based videos starring local role models who have adopted best health practices are produced and screened, which encourages others in the community to follow the route. RMF Nepal is adopting and tailoring this approach to suit the local needs.
Consignment with Medical Supplies and Equipment for District Hospital
Karuna Girl’s College
Following this collaboration, RMF is continuing the support to Global Karuna, from meeting the immediate needs of the survivors to long-term support for improving education, health and livelihoods of girls and women from remote and socially-culturally disadvantaged communities. In this regard, RMF is supporting “The Karuna Girls School”- one of the many initiations of the Global Karuna.
The Karuna Girls School provides education beyond elementary school for teenage girls from Lumbini where the girls are married as young as 10 years of age and face life of poverty and discrimination. In this region, the average female literacy rate is one of the lowest in the world. According to the Nepal Census Data 2001, in Lumbini VDC, out of 3,792 school age children (5-15 years), 1,085 girls were out of school.
The school also provides vocational training for disadvantaged women. Training includes programs such as midwifery, sewing crafts and tourism.
RMF has committed to being part of infrastructure development and expansion at Karuna Girls School:
Currently 150 girls are in enrolled; the goal is to enroll 220 girls by June 2016.
In order to accommodate this, a 3rd floor needs to be built; this would provide 8 new classrooms.
Calculation per classroom: $10,000.
Grade 9 girls have been transferred to another school to reach Grade 10; the goal is to prepare for University accreditation.
Long-term goal: Enrollment of 500 girls.
Land has been procured for a hospital; the vison is to build a hospital.
The objective of the project is to overcome the cultural norm and dire future of uneducated repressed girls (child marriage and human trafficking) in Nepal and to provide a safe alternative where teenage girls and women can meet, learn and improve themselves and their future.
The project will educate teenage girls and local women for generations to come. Karuna Girls College is near the World Heritage Site in Lumbini. Tourism venues are being developed; health services and a traditional Nepali art store are also planned. The school aims to keep engaging the parents and to reach out to the community to educate about the importance of girls’ education through parents meetings, village trips and other such means.
The need for a girls’ school in the region is demonstrated by current demand where enrollment has been overwhelmingly successful, far exceeding the school’s planning.
Key components of the Karuna Girls School project are:
Introduction of programs such as tourism, midwifery, nursing and accounting. These trainings will be vital after high school.
Grade eleven and twelve classes are taught in English and the teachers are able to communicate in English. The girl students are developing command of this language as an important skill for them in the labor market.
Engaging the parents and outreach to the community to educate about the importance of girls’ education through parents meetings, village trips, etc.
Vocational training (tailoring and computer) in the evenings, provided for free for local women.
Tourism – Travel agent services and guiding opportunities are being explored. Being the sacred birthplace of the Buddha and a world heritage site, Lumbini attracts large numbers of pilgrims and tourists every year. The government of Nepal estimates that there will be about 2 million visitors to Lumbini annually within a few years. There are several projects in the pipeline by the government and international agencies for the development of Lumbini. A training course for young women graduates on tourism/ hospitality will seek to address these demands.
Agriculture – The girls are experimenting with an organic garden to produce vegetables for their own kitchen and to sell any surplus. As an agriculture-based economy, the vocational program will also include this component.
Midwifery – With regards to the quality of health care services, the region severely lacks skilled human resources, resulting in poor maternal, infant, and child health care. The government of Nepal has prioritized recruiting more trained midwives who can help deliver healthcare to their rural regions. Currently the school is sponsoring 4 women graduates in the Palpa Midwifery Program. RMF is looking into helping the school in fostering midwifery education and producing more skilled midwives to tackle the current challenges, especially in rural areas where the maternal, infant, and child mortality rate is high. Longer-term plans of the school include providing midwifery and nursing programs. These are highly sought after skills in Nepal and can significantly contribute to not only improve health care services but also to enhance the livelihoods of the women. In addition, land close to Karuna Girls School has been procured to build a hospital, and plans are moving forward.
More than 8,500 people are dead and over 15,000 injured following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit the Himalayan region the morning of April 25, 2015. Eight million people are affected across Nepal, and one million children are in urgent need of help.