At the Himalayan Trust UK, we are dedicated to improving the health of villagers in five of the most remote mountain areas of Nepal’s Taplejung district. These areas are Yamphudin, Taplethok, Lelep, Ikhabu and Olangchung Gola, with a total population of about 7,000 people (Nepal Census 2011). We operate a co-operative approach to our work, continuing Sir Edmund Hillary’s tradition of asking villagers what they would like help with and carrying out all work in conjunction with them. Our activities are based on clear evidence of need and are closely monitored and evaluated to ensure they remain in keeping with local policy.
We aim to help empower these remote rural communities to improve their own health and to take full advantage of the health services available to them, through community education, fundraising and support.
Our teams work alongside villagers and their leaders to help improve infrastructure and install and run health-related projects, including training around staff retention and support. We prioritise ensuring access to clean water and sanitisation, as well as focusing on maternal and neonatal health as key topics.
In all our work in this field, we operate on a partnership basis, ensuring mutual co-operation and respect of the local communities’ views to adhere to local policy and meet the highest possible standards of sustainable healthcare and public health.
We have based our work on initial health needs assessments, or Villagers’ Views and Needs’, carried out in Yamphudin, Taplethok and Ikhabu and comprising such aspects as household surveys, meetings with mothers’ groups and female community health volunteers and structured clinic appraisals in liaison with health post staff.
Resultant projects have ranged from rebuilding health clinics and birthing centres to training midwives; running uterine prolapse health camps to helping with budgets, recruitment and administration.
Multiple health projects are underway in the region and village leaders and healthcare professionals report significant improvements in the health of their communities.
Our teams are currently on schedule for all planned work. Building projects include the Yamphudin Health Post and Birthing Centre, due to be completed later on in 2018. Electricity has recently been installed to Lelep Health Post, improving the level of care for patients receiving treatment there and enabling night-time deliveries for the first time.
Healthcare training remains high on our list of priorities and we have seen several successes in this area. For example, two married Female Community Health Volunteers from Yamphudin have recently completed their training, one as an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife and the other as a Community Medical Assistant.
We have made first-aid training courses available for teachers in five different villages to help protect the health of the children under their care. Auxiliary Nurse Midwife training scholarships have also been awarded to two talented school-leavers from Taplethok, who have been bonded to return to the village for three years after their training.
Yamphudin now has a community health awareness project, as well as new funding for maternity referrals and emergencies and a pilot uterine prolapse health camp led by a small team of doctors and nurse with the authority to treat patients on site or refer them to Zonal Hospital in Biratnagar.
The success of our healthcare projects across five remote villages in the Taplejung district of Nepal has spurred us on to continue our work and to seek out new initiatives to help the communities better manage their own health.
A top priority for us is the further development of the community health awareness project in Yamphudin. We firmly believe in the adage that ‘prevention is better than cure’ and that enhanced health education in the heart of the community will help keep disease at bay and empower the villagers to maintain optimum hygiene and good health practice.
We are also continuing our ambitious training programmes, building on the successes we have seen so far among Female Health Volunteers and talented students with an interest in pursuing a medical career. Our programme of bonded Auxiliary Nurse Midwife scholarships for local school leavers will continue, as will our support for recruitment programmes designed to attract the services of the best Auxiliary Nurse Midwives for the area.
Our teams are committed to carrying out further health needs assessments in Olangchung Gola and Lelep, as well as launching initial health projects in Lelep or Ikhabu. In all our work, we will uphold the values of respect, co-operation and shared knowledge to help empower the local communities and safeguard their health for a long time to come.
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Our aim is to improve the health of villagers in five of the most remote mountain areas of Taplejung District. The needs are severe.
In one village alone, about 12 women (out of 363 females of all ages) have died of pregnancy-related problems in the last decade. During our Health Needs Assessment, we asked villagers, community leaders and health workers what they thought important, while collecting other evidence like the state of health posts or clinics. Maternal and Child Health was concluded to be a key priority. We established that there was a need for a better equipped health post with, most importantly, a birthing centre. We have undertaken to rebuild the existing health post in accordance with government guidelines and with the help of local partners.
The new health post will help to attract, recruit and maintain staff, provide safer maternity and neonatal care and allows for better health overall care for the villages in the Taplejung area, resulting in a healthier and safer community.