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NEPAL: Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health

Maternal and newborn mortality in Nepal are among the highest in the world, and regional disparities in health system coverage mean that some communities face even worse rates.  HealthRight’s Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health (PMNH) in Nepal is working with local partners and the health system to lower maternal and newborn deaths and to build lasting access to maternal and neonatal health care for rural communities in Kapilvastu and Arghakhachi.

The situation for the women and children the project serves is acute: across both districts, 81% of births take place at home, and as many as half of expectant mothers receive no antenatal care services.  As a result, data on maternal and infant deaths is difficult to come by, but the evidence suggests these communities face even higher numbers of unnecessary deaths that the rest of the country. With inadequate and inequitable allocation of resources for local health services, and a lack of cultural sensitivity in the services that have been made available (such as few if any female doctors to serve a comparatively large Muslim community), the right to health for women and children in these communities has yet to be realized.

The Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health in Nepal is working to reduce maternal and newborn deaths over the long term through a three pronged approach, including systems strengthening, advocacy, and capacity building.

Systems strengthening – Trainings and infrastructure

The project is working with communities and with the health system to build the capacity of health workers to provide care, and to improve and equip health facilities.  This includes trainings on clinical and social aspects of providing quality maternal and newborn care, and renovations and improved equipment for health facilities, especially those at the community level where women and children are more likely to access services.

Advocacy – Combating discrimination and realizing the right to health  

HealthRight is also working within the national health system to address inequities in access to health for this region, and to change policies that lead to low utilization of services.  This includes working at the community level in partnership with local NGOs to increase awareness of the importance of using health facilities during pregnancy and delivery, and to ensure follow up care for infants.  With improved quality of care and awareness, many maternal and newborn deaths can be easily prevented.

Capacity building - Saving lives and providing rights-based care

HealthRight is training health workers to provide services today, while working on systems to ensure that those services are available for years to come, and that quality continues to improve.