22 Jun 20
Covid-19: Maternal Healthcare
The current Covid-19 pandemic has presented a huge challenge to health systems across Nepal, with particularly devastating effects felt in the provision and access to maternal and child healthcare. PHASE is continuing to provide this vital maternal and child healthcare as part of our essential health services throughout lockdown.
Whilst the national maternal mortality rate (MMR) stands at 239/100,000, this increases in the Far West of Nepal with an MMR of 320/100,000, resulting in 1,200 mothers still dying during birth in Nepal every year. The UN Sustainable Development Goals have specified a target of an MMR of under 70 by 2030, however, Nepal’s interim target of reducing MMR to 125 by this year has yet failed to be met. Improvements to these figures have been made through Nepal’s Safe Motherhood program, however, Covid-19 seems to have undone some of this progress. The number of women attending clinics and antenatal checks has sharply decreased due to the fear of Covid-19 as well as lockdown restrictions. This has lead to a tragic increase in maternal mortality.
In light of this situation, PHASE have continued to provide essential healthcare services in Gorkha, Bajura, Mugu, Humla, and Sindhulpalchok. We are working to counter the risk of deaths caused by the coronavirus lockdown and those not seeking necessary healthcare
In the last quarter, our team delivered 55 babies and provided regular antenatal and prenatal check-ups, immunisations and family planning services. We see such programmes and services as vital in ensuring a strong and healthy start to life for women and children during the Covid-19 crisis. Maternal and child healthcare is the cornerstone of our primary healthcare provision, which currently reaches 45,000 people a year across community health posts in all our project areas. Our team of extraordinary Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) simultaneously run service provision and public health education programmes with a particular focus on maternal and child health. ANM’s work with women and their families in the early stages of pregnancy, promoting behavioural change and increasing understanding around antenatal care; building trust within the community and working to reduce MMR.