To address the alarming concern of maternal and child malnutrition in the marginalized section of five Village Development Committees (VDCs) of Makwanpur district of Nepal, the Nepal Public Health Foundation (NPHF), in partnership with Project HOPE and Center for Disaster Philanthropy launched SPARSH-M (sparsh means soft touch) at the district level. The two year program is being implemented in Rakshirang, Khairang, Sarikhet, Kankada and Bharta areas of Makwanpur district. Chepang, Tamang and other Dalit communities will be the major beneficiaries. The overall goal of the program is to strengthen the Maternal Newborn & Child health service delivery system by:
- Increasing access to maternal, neonatal and child health services, especially for marginalized and underserved populations
- Improving key hygiene practices by increasing access and providing hygiene education
Dignitaries from NPHF, department of health, agriculture, education, water supply and sanitation, representatives from civil societies, federation of the journalists and various stakeholders all participated in the program launch. The program launch was chaired by the executive chair of Nepal Public Health Foundation, Dr. Mahesh Maskey, with chief guest Dr. Man Bahadur B.K (Chief District Officer, Makawanpur), and special guests were Mr. Ram Krishna Thapa (Social and Development Officer) and Dr. Laxmikant Palo (Regional Director- SEA Project HOPE) in attendance. Other guests included Mr. Deepak Pd. Tiwari (Public Health Administrator, DPHO Makawanpur), Ms. Mira Chaudhary (SP), Prof. Dr. Sharad Raj Onta (General secretary, NPHF).
While addressing the attendees, Dr. Palo, Regional Director, Project HOPE, said, “Project HOPE is looking forward to impacting the lives of people in the project area to improve their health and well-being in partnership with Ministry of Health, other key ministries, NPHF, CDP and local organizations.”
Dr. Man Bahadur B.K (CDO) stressed the role of the state government in the sustainability of health services delivery. The formative research findings were shared with the participants. The purpose of the formative research was to assess situation of MNCHN service provision and understand providers and community perception, belief and practice and to identify potential influences and barriers for maternal, neonatal and child health for better program implementation design. The sessions were facilitated by Mr. Janak Thapa, Program Director (NPHF). Dr. Mahesh Kumar Maskey, Executive Chair (NPHF) summed up the program with closing remarks, stating the importance of development and health sectors working in collaboration. He further added, development through health will take time, but can be accomplished through active community participation.
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