Nepal’s weekly coronavirus cases and deaths are among the highest in the world on a per capita basis. According to the World Health Organization, Nepal has recorded roughly 163 cases per 100,000 people over the last week. Thankfully, new daily cases have began to decrease over the past few days, but people across the country are still desperate for vaccines.
Nepal launched its vaccination campaign at the beginning of 2021 and has since given doses to 1.9 million people. Nepal relies on India and China to provide them with doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. However, it is now uncertain whether a continuation of the vaccination drive in Nepal will be possible, with India now prioritising their own population by delivering remaining doses to control the second wave of the virus there.
As Nepal’s infections surge, authorities are working tirelessly to reduce transmission rates. However, if cases Covid-19 in Nepal continue to increase at the current rate, it is estimated that there will be no hospital beds available within the next week.
Until recently, cases of Covid-19 had largely been contained within the capital Kathmandu, and other more densely populated areas of Nepal. However, over the past month, around 5,000 people arrived in the Karnali region in the Far West of the country from various parts of India, as cases there began to increase. Across Nepal, 38 percent of tests are still coming back positive, while inadequate testing has meant that the risk of Covid-19 spreading to the remote regions in the Far West region of Nepal has increased. The current health infrastructure of the region could easily become overwhelmed if the situation continues to worsen.
From October 2020 to March 2021, PHASE Worldwide delivered a Covid-19 Rapid Response Project in the Far West of Nepal. Although this response has now reached its end, health workers and communities in the Far West are now far more prepared for an increase in cases than they were previously. The prevention work put in place during the Covid-19 Rapid Response will continue to benefit these communities, with the provisions distributed across the region helping to mitigate the worst effects of this second outbreak.
During this response, we took a number of steps to disseminate knowledge of the dangers of the virus, and how people can go about their daily lives without posing a risk to themselves and their communities. In addition, 3,000 Hygiene Kits were distributed amongst vulnerable households and 220 sets of PPE items were given to all 11 PHASE Health Posts. This was a crucial process for supporting the healthcare system, as a reduced spread of the virus ultimately means less pressure on struggling health services.
Going forward, PHASE will continue to support healthcare structures across the Far West of Nepal and will ensure that there remains an increased awareness of Covid-19 prevention. We are continuing to work with Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) and Traditional Healers in order to improve public understanding of the virus. We are confident that precautions put in place during our Rapid Response Project will continue to support vulnerable communities in the Far West of Nepal throughout this next, difficult stage.