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Providing life-saving support for women and babies in Nepal

When disaster strikes, time doesn’t stop. Hours pass, days go by, and expectant mothers continue to go into labour. So when the only health clinic in your remote community is destroyed after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hits, a backup plan can mean the difference between life and death.

After the two earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks hit Nepal in the spring of 2015, health facilities in remote communities virtually vanished. New moms and pregnant women were initially faced with a 3- to 4-hour trek to the nearest health facility.

“When women and children do not have adequate access to local hospital or health posts, there is an increased risk of maternal and neo-natal mortality,” explains KK Singh, Plan International’s maternal health specialist.

In the face of fear, who can help?

Women gather round to talk in tent

New and expectant mothers receive support at temporary mobile clinics built by Plan in Dolahka.

Not long after the earthquakes hit, Plan began mobilizing support for expectant mothers and their infants. In Dolakha, one of the worst hit districts in Nepal, Plan built temporary mobile clinics to support pregnant women, since the only health clinic in Dolakha had been completely wiped out.

Now the women of Dolakha can stay close to home and access support from trained medical staff and health care volunteers, avoiding an arduous 4 hour hike. Additionally, Plan is on the ground providing training for women on safe labour, and teaching new moms how to care for newborns in the aftermath of disaster.

Everyday heroes taking shape

“My role is to support pregnant women, ensuring they have frequent check-ups and a safe delivery,” says Chandra, a community health volunteer working in Sindhupalchowk district, Nepal.

Chandra is one of 50,000 community health volunteers working in remote communities across the country, where access to health services, doctors, nurses and midwives is limited. These volunteers are playing a crucial role in the lives of women and their babies.

Standing brave and saving lives

New mother cradles her baby while volunteer provides support

Community health volunteers like Chandra teach new mothers how to care for their newborns.

Plan has equipped Chandra with clean delivery kits and newborn baby kits to assist in her work. She also received training in how to provide appropriate care before, during and after childbirth.

These resources meant Chandra was fully prepared when a 22-year-old woman went into labour during a 3-hour journey to the nearest health clinic. When Chandra arrived on the scene, mother and baby were lying on the ground.

“I used the clean delivery supplies and newborn baby supplies provided by Plan, which allowed me to safely cut the baby’s umbilical cord and show the mother how to begin breastfeeding,” explains Chandra.

That day, Chandra saved the life of that young mother and her newborn. She kept her cool and provided life-saving support to a family in need. Until new clinics are built and damaged ones rebuilt, Plan will focus on providing health services directly to pregnant women in earthquake-affected districts of Nepal.

How Plan is reaching mothers and newborns

In the last 6 months, Plan has helped mother and newborns in earthquake-affected communities in the following ways:

  • 719 female community health volunteers and health care workers have been trained by Plan, and more than 13,000 women and children have received training on the importance of maternal and newborn health.
  • 29 health posts were provided with water and sanitation facilities, enabling health workers to use safe, clean water for pregnant women, nursing mothers, newborns and children under 5.
  • Over 3,000 reproductive health supplies have been used by midwives to support women and their babies before, during and after labour.

You can help Plan rebuild the lives of those affected by the earthquake and support the health of mothers and their newborns.