High-quality pediatric care essential for young Nepali population
Over 40% of Nepal’s population is under the age of 18. Within a population of 30 million, 12 million are children.
High-quality pediatric care to keep these 12 million children healthy is essential.
Lack of access to pediatric care leads to higher morbidity and (premature) deaths.
Moreover, it might come at a cost for society: children in need of care might not be able to enjoy education, resulting in less-educated population and lower standards of sanitation and welfare.
Currently, Nepal faces major problems in pediatric healthcare
Currently the Nepalese healthcare system is not able to provide access high-quality and affordable care for these children.
The healthcare system suffers from (among others) the following problems:
- Shortage of qualified healthcare professionals and facilities. Moreover, the available healthcare facilities do not offer the complete range of healthcare services that are needed. Especially specialty services are limited.
- Low accessibility of healthcare facilities: most of the available hospitals and specialized care facilities are concentrated in the Kathmandu Valley. Due to Nepal’s infrastructural and geographical challenges the accessibility of hospital care and specialized care is low.
- Absence of a healthcare network: healthcare facilities operate primarily on their own, there is little collaboration between healthcare facilities. Moreover, Nepal does not have an effective referral system. This results in inefficiencies in care provision and inability to provide comprehensive care.
Nepal targets to improve pediatric healthcare
The availability of children’s healthcare in Nepal is very limited. There is only one government hospital for children in the country (Kanti Children Hospital).
The children’s healthcare situation is severe, with the total beds to service roughly 12 million children being only around 475 beds. The Nepalese government has set a target to reduce the infant mortality rate and neonatal mortality rates to 22 per 1000 and 10 per 1000 live births by 2030, as per the SDG 3 of the United Nations. Given the present status of 46 per 1000 and 33 per 1000 respectively, this is a very ambitious target and significant investment in child healthcare is required to reach it.
It is difficult to change the current healthcare system
However, there is currently no national healthcare plan outlining the way Nepal reorganizes its healthcare system to reach these goals. Additionally, healthcare systems are complex and rigid, changing such systems takes time and can be challenging.*
How to make changes?
To be able to make a change in the healthcare system, Nepal needs a breakthrough: an innovative approach.
KIOCH aims to be the start of this change.
*Source: Experts in the field of (child) health in Nepal