Our recent activities and the relationships built meant that over this challenging year we were in an excellent position to work with the local communities to help implement what was needed. We have run a comprehensive Covid programme and also succeeded in completing some of our ongoing activities, including training health post staff and managers.
With just one set of PPE available in each health post back in April, the risk to the health workers was very real. Early in the pandemic we diverted £8,000 of funds to purchase essential PPE, drugs and medical products, cleaning supplies and stretchers. Our local partner, Action for Nepal, arranged for these to be delivered by jeep and porters to six health posts in the remote mountains. Local health workers and families sent messages back saying how relieved they were.
We continued to support the health post staff through the pandemic, remotely explaining Covid manuals (prepared in time to deliver with the PPE) and training them on how to use the PPE and manage cases. We set up links with the District Hospital to facilitate referrals and we arranged phone lines for advice in the villages.
You may remember that in 2019 we built a new Health Post with Birthing Centre in Yamphudin. We have worked hard this year to ensure it provides a high quality service which the community uses well. The new facility is now registered by the government and has seven staff, including three midwives. Standard procedures are in place for infectious diseases, covering matters like hygiene, cleaning and waste management that they had expressed concern about. Staff are trained to produce regular data reports for monitoring and we are pleased these show increasing attendances despite lockdown.
One of the highlights this year has been training the Yamphudin Health Post management team, perhaps not something often said about management training. They showed extraordinary enthusiasm and already have implemented their own action plan. The two main training aims were to support management to deliver better quality health services and to improve multisector collaboration, particularly with the new local political system. Successful collaboration with the local politicians, supported by our local partner, led to the health post registration, new staffing and funding for the management action plan.
One of the participants said “We were keen to bring about changes in the health service, but had not had the know-how before this.” Follow-up training will be done next year.
In the community, we have developed further our travel fund for maternity emergencies. We have started preparing for a health education and support programme, to increase wellbeing and further improve appropriate use of services. In preparation for rolling out our health programme to Lelep, we have updated our health needs assessment there. More on these community matters another time.
Implementing the changes was always going to take a while, particularly with recent political and health service reorganisations, remoteness, limited education, cultural beliefs and the widespread use of traditional healers – and then Covid. However, we share the confidence of local people and Action for Nepal that together we are steadily moving in the right direction.
Debbie and Kate, our Health Programme Trustees, would like to thank you very much for your support, which has made all these achievements possible! They look forward to continuing the work in Yamphudin and rolling out our package of health activities to other target wards.
Encouraged by our work? Please consider making a donation, the communities of Taplejung appreciate any support you feel able to give.
Here is what a few well-known climbers have to say about the mountain people of Nepal in a short film. Worth a watch! Click here