In Nepal, 64% of pregnant women still deliver their babies at home without assistance of a professional. The poorest families have no access to prenatal care or any professional help through the delivery. Every four hours, a woman dies due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth. When a new mother does survive, the odds are that her baby will not. Every hour, two Nepali newborns take their final breath, most of them less than a day old. Despite the enormous national and global efforts to prioritize neonatal survival, the annual global rate of decline for neonatal mortality has remained stagnant. The majority of neonatal death occurs within poor, rural, underserved areas and may not be accurately reflected by the mortality rates reported at the national level. For example, in 2011, the national neonatal mortality rate in Nepal was reported to be 27/1,000 live births, whereas at that same time in Dolpa, a remote district in which we work, the neonatal mortality rate was more than three times that amount at 98/1,000 live births.
While Nepal’s maternal mortality ratio has improved substantially in the last few decades, maternal health indicators are still very poor in the remote hilly and mountain areas. In these remote regions, the availability and quality of maternal health services continue to create a challenge to combating maternal and newborn mortality.
The Nepali health ministry recognizes that expanded coverage of effective outreach, community-based care programs and trained providers could help reduce the number of maternal and infant deaths, but so far, impact in the most remote areas has been limited.
Our program in Nepal, will bring affordable mobile healthcare and safe motherhood in the area. Soon the 250,000 people living in rural communities scattered along the foothills of the Himalayas will have the resources and training to help women survive childbirth and to give their babies a chance to survive.