Female volunteers raise awareness about hygiene and nutrition in the rural healthcare of Bhedabari in Kaski district.
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Like most women in Nepal, 42-year-old Parbati Dhungana wakes up before dawn to take care of her family. Parbati is a mother, wife and farmer, but she is also a female health volunteer, one of more than 55,000 all over Nepal who have been credited with saving the lives of mothers and infants in Nepal.
After leaving her children to the care of relatives, Parbati goes door-to-door to educate people about an upcoming health camp in Bhedabari of Kaski district.
HEALTH IS WEALTH: Female health volunteers Harimaya (left) and Parbati Dhungana (right) go door-to-door to educate people about upcoming health camps and also conduct follow-ups.
“They might be illiterate and poor, but their hearts are full of love,” says physician Narendra Kumar Shrestha about the female volunteers who contribute to the success of his mobile rural clinic at the Bhedabari Primary Health Centre.
“Prevention is better than cure,” says Shrestha, “and this is where the awareness and followup work by the female volunteers is crucial.”
Parbati and other volunteers tell local mothers about the need for clean water, hygiene and sanitation, nutrition and family planning. Indeed, most health problems in rural Nepal like prolapsed uterus or infections can be prevented. “It is not enough to provide free medicines, we need awareness to teach people how to improve their immunity,” says Shrestha.
The health camp in Bhedabari is supported by UK-based The Mountain Trust, which treated 680 patients in a nine-hour day with eight specialised doctors, five nurses and two lab technicians.
Physician Narendra Kumar Shrestha (right) welcomes staff and patients at a free health camp in Kaski
People in rural areas may not have as good access to modern medicine, but they possess a lot of traditional knowledge, which helps them to fight illnesses.
Kalpana GC came for a checkup for her baby.(left)A patient receives her free medicines at the mobile clinic.
The health camps are also social gatherings where villager meet friends and relatives they haven’t seen in a long time. People put on their best clothes and are proud of showing how much their children have grown.
Coming out time, Sunir Pandey