On March 22nd, the Nepalese government decided on a complete “lockdown” of the country, provisionally for one week. This has been extended by another two weeks and will now last at least until April 15th. The borders are closed and all international flights have been cancelled.
So far, there are nine confirmed Covid-19 cases in Nepal. The low number of cases can be explained by the small number of tests being carried out. In addition to a low testing capacity, it has been reported that hospital staff have often sent away patients with symptoms of a flu due to fear of getting infected with the virus themselves, fueled by a lack of suitable protective clothing. After a shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as 10.000 test kits arrived from China at the end of March, it can be assumed that the increased testing will also lead to a higher number of detected infections. Currently only one hospital is carrying out the tests. Three to four other hospitals are being equipped with the necessary resources for testing. Overall, there are very few hospitals in Nepal with intensive care beds and sufficient nursing staff. In addition, there are reports of corruption in the health sector as well as a general supply bottleneck.
In summary, the current situation in Nepal must be regarded through extremely serious lenses. As a country with a fragile healthcare system, and not having necessary infrastructure to cope with an increasing number of infections, the country is not prepared for a pandemic.
Start of Basic Health Counsellor Training postponed due to Covid-19
Our Nepalese partner organisation Akasha Academy NGO was in the final preparations to start our Basic Health Counsellor training. The training was expected to begin in early May in the new training center in Suntakhan. The construction of the facilities has been completed in time before the lockdown. However, all other activities such as equipping the training center are currently on hold.
Furthermore, schools have been closed in Nepal since March 20th. The examinations as well as final exams that were scheduled for the end of March have been postponed until further notice, which will also affect to the start of the Basic Health Counsellor training. Only graduates who have already passed the final school exams can take part in the training program. Updates on the current status of the project will be published regularly on our blog.
Spontaneous help with urgently needed protective clothing
Together with our Nepalese partners, we are currently trying to support the people in Suntakhan in a various ways to help them overcome this crisis. Therefore, the Health Post in Suntakhan, the local point of first aid for health problems, was equipped with respiratory masks and protective clothing. The support from the Akasha Academy NGO is currently the only source for the Health Post staff to get PPE, which is urgently needed during the pandemic. In this regard, financial support is still urgently needed. Please support the health equipment collection here.