The situation of child health care in Nepal
Every child is in need of child health care. Out of a total population of about 25 million Nepalese, about 11 million are children. This means that 40% of the population is below the age of 18.
In Nepal, around 25 percent live below the poverty line and most of them have limited access even to public health services. Especially children in the countryside die without specialized and affordable services available. The most common causes of child death are infection, birth asphyxia and hypothermia.
According to World Health Organisation, Nepal is seriously behind in the number of beds per people (now 0.9 while the norm is 5 beds per 1000). For children the situation is even worse.
With a government children’s hospital and some private hospitals in Kathmandu, there are only 475 children hospital beds available. Most of them are in hospitals that are too expensive, or where the quality of health care is not good enough. In addition, there are very few of these children’s hospitals that offer the various essential specialized services.
The start of the journey
Prof. Dr. Bhagawan Koirala, a hospital executive and the first heart surgeon to ever perform open heart surgeries in Nepal, and Deepak Raj Sapkota, founder and Executive Director of Karuna Foundation Nepal started a journey how to improve child health care in Nepal. And, they found that access to good quality health care is one of the greatest hurdles in improving child health care in Nepal.
Our objective is to give access to high quality health care to all children in Nepal by building the Kathmandu Institute of Child Health, that provides high level services with specialization in the majority of paediatric health care services, also rendering preventive health services in and around Kathmandu.
Successes in child health care in Nepal
Nepal brought down from 2011 to 2016 (death per 1000 live births):
- the Infant Mortality Rate (children below 1 year) from 46 decreased to 32
- the Under Five Mortality Rate (children below 5 years) from 54decreased to 36
- the Neonatal Mortality Rate (first 28 days) from 33 decreased to 21.
Current health infrastructure
The Ministry of Health has a network of about 4,100 health facilities in Nepal. These government facilities run from the village level health posts, to the primary health care centres, to the provincial hospitals all the way up to the central hospitals. In addition, there are over 350 private health facilities.
The major causes of deaths in children in Nepal are related to complications which could be prevented. We need to improve the access to health care, and the quality of the services.