20 May Coronavirus in Nepal: the role of INF/UK and our partners (May 2021)
A second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is devastating Nepal, as the crisis seen in India has ripped across the region.
More than a quarter of the country’s districts are reporting hospital bed shortages. Our partners are witnessing heart-breaking scenes, including somebody so desperate for an empty bed they were stood by one, waiting for a patient who had just died to be removed.
This deadly second wave is far more severe and unpredictable than Nepal has experienced during the pandemic. Case numbers are now approaching 500,000, with more than 5,500 deaths – and both totals are rising fast as each day passes.
Nepal only has 1,595 intensive care beds and 480 ventilators* for its population of about 30 million people.
Lockdowns and restrictions cause further harm to those already living in poverty, with distressing reports of rising suicide rates.
Some with Covid symptoms never even get the care they require because, even in a government hospital, treatment and tests can cost almost £200 – about three months’ income for somebody living in poverty. Others living in rented accommodation face eviction if they test positive, so avoid tests, even if they have symptoms, in case the result makes them homeless.
Another aggravating factor behind this second wave is the low vaccination rate, which has been caused by minimal availability and a widespread reluctance to be vaccinated.
THE ROLE OF OUR PARTNERS IN NEPAL
Last year we were glad to be able to support our partners work helping over 9,000 people in the greatest need across 8 districts.
With this second wave of Covid causing far more damage to people’s lives and livelihoods, the local Nepali NGOs we partner with are once again stepping up to serve people and communities who need the most support.
We have established relationships with trusted partners in Nepal, including: INF Nepal, Asal Chhimekee Nepal (ACN), Sarwanjin Sewa Samaj (SSS), and Group of Helping Hands (SAHAS) Nepal.
The main themes of their Covid response activities are:
- Providing for basic needs, e.g. food – packages to feed families who are unable to earn money and therefore struggle to pay for food, are being distributed to people living in poverty.
- Supporting local health services, e.g. isolation centres (including wards at all three INF Nepal hospitals) and health posts – equipment and medical supplies are being provided for many new isolation centres to help slow the spread of the virus, and support for existing local health institutions, especially in remote areas.
- Community awareness – publicising activities which help protect communities from the spread of Covid-19, and promotional information about the efficacy of vaccinations.
- Education support – with schools now closed for over a year, SAHAS Nepal is setting up a community-managed coaching centre in Bajura and distributing educational materials to children for home-based study.
Our partners also have a key responsibility to care for their staff and ensure they are kept safe, so that will play a key role in planning and delivering all of these Covid response activities.
THE ROLE OF INF/UK
As a charity fully committed to Nepal and dedicated to serving those in the greatest need, our commitment remains as strong as ever at this time of crisis in Nepal.
We will continue to work closely with our partners and remain agile to adapt as the situation evolves over the coming weeks and months, as well as supporting them in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of response activities.
Although this crisis is affecting people at all levels of society, our focus is still on people and communities who are most affected by poverty or suffering.
We are seeking to raise funds from UK-based individuals, trusts and foundations so we can deliver swift financial support to fund vital activities as agreed with our partners, and keep our UK-based donors updated with the difference their gifts are making.
* Data from Nepal’s Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC)