The devastating earthquake in Nepal on April 2015 damaged many facets of human life and the land itself. As the result, people who were already marginalized and vulnerable have become more fragile and left with very few health and social services.
In partnership with Government of Nepal, Ministry of Health and Population, Center for Disaster Philanthropy, as well as Nepal Public Health Foundation, Project HOPE carried out a post-disaster needs assessment in 14 severely affected districts.
As a result of the assessment, the “Better Access and Services Provision to Improve Maternal, Neonatal Child Health Nutrition and Hygiene Service in Makawanpur” was launched in five of the remotest villages where the Chepang are one of the major inhabitants. This program is named SPARSH in Nepali.
Makawanpur district is in the central development region of Nepal. Along with other ethnic groups, Chepangs are one of the most prominent tribal groups residing in the district. Chepang initially had a semi-nomadic (slash-and-burn agriculture) lifestyle, but this is now slowly shifting to a more settled way of life, relying increasingly upon the produce of permanent fields of maize, millet and bananas. Mostly uneducated and without much exposure to other regions, the health and social indicators of the tribe were found to be marginally low. The earthquake only exasperated the health challenges faced by the tribe.
SPARSH has successfully marked its presence in the Chepang community through an orientation program, direct community dialogue, awareness campaigns and community mobilization including a healthy baby competition and other school based activities. At the same time, SPARSH has joined the government effort directly and indirectly by providing communication training to front line health workers, community workers, health posts and similar entities. Technical support has been provided to establish birthing centers where there is no health facility. Mothers are encouraged to participate in informative group meetings and other community engagement activities.
The program aims to have long-lasting impact on health workers, the health system and the entire community.
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