Kathmandu: Treatment of newborns with serious health complications was not possible in Kapilvastu. Parents used to take neonates suffering from such ailments elsewhere for treatment where, they had to bear the burden of increased medical expenses and other difficulties.
These days, treatment for health complications affecting newborns is available at Kapilvastu district hospital, thanks to the establishment of a Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) with the support of Maternal and Neonatal Project implemented by FAIRMED in the district. The project provided the unit of 1.5 million rupees for renovation and procurement of necessary equipment. In the federal context, FAIRMED initiated for the close coordination with local authorities and was able to mobilize the local budget of municipality. Kapilvastu Municipality provided the financial assistance for the management of hospital garden, installation of air condition and other facilities.
The unit provides treatment for neonates suffering from low birth weight, hypothermia, jaundice, and breathing problems. It also treats neonates in unconscious state, babies with low glucose levels and those suffering from loss of blood. The hospital provides free treatment to babies, up to 28 days old and are suffering from complex health problems.
The SNCU was inaugurated in June 2018. During the two months’ time, five cases of premature birth, low birth weight, asphyxia, jaundice have been admitted and utilized the service. The hospital now is witnessing large number of patients from across the district and also from the adjoining districts
Nirmala Sharma, FAIRMED country coordinator, says the programme is meant to bring down neonatal mortality rate. She says: The government aims to bring down neonatal mortality rate to 12/1,000 within the year 2030. After the support request from the government, we decided to support for the establishment of the SNCU to help government achieve the said goal.
Project Manager Shashi Lal Karna says the maternal and child health situation in Kapilvastu is improving gradually with the contribution of the MANASHI project. He adds: The establishment of a Special New born Care Unit at the district hospital has added a new dimension to the district’s health service sector. “Now, people take neonates out of the district for treatment only in the extreme complex cases.” says Karna.
According to the Nepal Demographic and Health Survey 2016, the neonatal mortality rate has not decreased for the last 10 years. According to the survey, 21 neonates still die out of every 1,000 live births.
Dipak Jha, senior public health officer at the Child Health Division, said FAIRMED (MANASHI Project) helped establish a Special Newborn Care Unit in Kapilvastu.
“It could have taken us 3-4 years to establish such a unit. Due to the lack of budget, it’s not possible to establish such units in all places at one go,” he says, adding: So, we requested for the support for the establishment of the unit. FAIRMED came to the fore and provided us financial assistance.”
Jha says the division plans to establish neonatal intensive care units throughout the country. “In some places, such units have started providing services, whereas in others, establishment of such units is underway.”