Community Health Awareness Programme in Lelep

The health team have now completed their Community Health Awareness Programme in Lelep, which has been going on for the past two years. The sessions are run by Female Community Health Volunteers (“FCHV”) and a total of 1,678 participants, mainly women (but some men!) attended the sessions.

Most of the sessions are aimed at improving Maternal and Child Health. The topics covered have included:

  • Danger signs to watch out for
  • Classification of food and nutrients
  • Ear care of children
  • Benefits of Vitamin A and worm medicine
  • Family planning
  • Oral hygiene
  • Pregnancy care

Other topics discussed have included Snakebite, Effects of smoking and tobacco, Safe drinking water and Blood pressure

In attempting to improve maternal care we have provided ultrasound training to a local nurse from Lelep and have bought an ultrasound monitor for the Health post in Lelep, known as the Lungthung Health Post. The monitor will ensure more accurate dating of pregnancies and allows for better monitoring of the growth of the foetus. By having this facility problems in pregnancy can be more accurately anticipated and referrals can be made to a hospital facility as appropriate.

Having introduced sessions on family planning, the health post now provides Contraceptive Implant services. Implants can prevent pregnancies for up to 3 years.

In Nepal, cervical cancer is the most common female cancer in women aged 15-44 and the leading cause of cancer deaths.  Despite these figures, currently less than 2% of women aged 30-60 in Nepal are screened leading to most women diagnosed with cervical cancer presenting at a late stage. The national guidelines in Nepal recommend screening with visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) every 5 years for women aged 30-60. Since our Health Awareness sessions and training by midwives, women are beginning to come forward for screening.

We spoke to Nima Doma Sherpa about the changes she has witnessed in the lives of women from Lelep over the last 10 years. Nima is from Ward 6 in Lelep, Phaktanglung Rural Municipality and is 25 years old. She got married at 16 and had her first baby at 17. Her son, born at home, is now 9 years old. She told us that the health awareness program has made her and other women safer and healthier in the village. Nima says,

“Almost 10 years ago, there wasn’t much awareness about antenatal check-ups or the services available at the health post. The health post didn’t offer many services, and the Female Community Health Volunteers weren’t trained properly like now.”

After having her first baby, Nima and her family decided to have another child, so she became pregnant again. Sadly, she experienced a miscarriage when she was six months pregnant.

When asked how she felt during this difficult time she said,

“I was very emotionally hurt. I cried a lot. I didn’t understand why this was happening. As a mother, losing a baby is very hard to explain in words. She adds, I wish no woman in the village had to experience the pain I went through when losing my baby.”

She also mentioned that after the miscarriage, she went to the health post where for the first time, she learned and realised the importance of having regular pregnancy check-ups. She further adds,

“When I look back at those years and compare them to now, I see many positive changes in our village. The health infrastructure has improved significantly, including the establishment of a well-equipped birthing center. Additionally, women in our community are now much more aware of their health, particularly during pregnancy. I am currently 10 weeks pregnant and I am making sure to take all necessary steps to stay healthy, like going for regular check-ups at the health center. My family supports me well; they don’t let me do hard work because I am pregnant. They also know a lot about pregnancy and women’s health”.

When asked about how these changes occurred in the village, Nima promptly responded, crediting the Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) for their crucial role in educating women on maternal and child health, family planning, nutrition, and hygiene. She also acknowledged that the improvement in health facilities has contributed to the positive change in the village. As a result, women have become much more confident in taking care of their own health compared to before.

“As a mother, neighbour, friend, and wife, one thing I’ve always wished for is not to hear the sorrow of any mother losing their child in Lelep. This wish of mine is coming true.”

She expresses heartfelt gratitude to our local partner Action for Nepal for training the FCHVs and advocating for maternal and child health with the local government. She also extends thanks to the Himalayan Trust UK for their support of the women’s health project in Lelep, without which these achievements would not have been possible.

Bolstered by the successes in Yamphudin and Lelep we have now started planning a Health awareness programme in Ikhabu.

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  • Warm blanket for mother and baby
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