Malnutrition – the silent disaster in Nepal
Malnutrition does not attract the same attention as an earthquake or an Ebola epidemic. It is a quiet everyday disaster, which is the underlying cause of many childhood deaths and diseases in Nepal.
Malnutrition claims victims every day. Malnutrition is the result of a multitude of coinciding issues: major social upheavals, outdated agriculture, poor health services, poverty, broken-down community institutions, traditions and much more. Nepal works nationally to fight malnutrition across sectors, but there is a very long way to go, and there are major gaps in prevention and treatment. The massive earthquake in 2015 was a major setback. Nepal is already one of the world's poorest countries with very bad statistics in terms of life expectancy, malnutrition and general living conditions.
Through our clinic, we help hundreds of children every year to get a good start in life so that they do not suffer from many of the malnutrition's consequences and later side effects.
The life-threatening consequences of malnutrition
Over 41% of children under the age of five in Nepal are malnourished. Many are chronically malnourished, which has fatal consequences.
The World Health Organization (WHO) divides malnutrition into two major categories, "wasting" and "stunting" - both are widespread in Nepal.
Our key programmes in the fight against malnutrition
Overcoming malnutrition is complex. Because malnutrition affects so many aspects of a child's life, we address all related issues, from information about healthy nutrition (what is a nourishing meal for a small child) to hygiene, hearing tests and proper treatment of infections, breastfeeding over a long period of time, disability and much more. Our three key programmes in the fight against malnutrition are:
Home Visits - reversing the malnutrition curve
Mother Groups -giving advice and helping mothers help themselves
Outreach Camps - reaching out in the field
1. Home visits - reversing the malnutrition curve
2. The first Mother Groups in Nepal
Chimalaya Charity was the first to introduce mother groups in Nepal – giving advice and helping the mothers help themselves.
Mothers openly share their experiences and problems and are able to pass on their knowledge to other women at the factory or in the village. This exchange of skills and experiences among the women is crucial in spreading the knowledge about malnutrition, as many rarely have access to a clinic. The mother groups have become a great success and we are working on developing and spreading the concept.
3. Outreach Camps – reaching out in the field
Because of Nepal's isolated villages and poor transport and health services, many health professionals in Nepal work with the so-called outreach camps. Typically, the clinic's staff will spend an entire day in a village, factory or school in the area. Being visible in this way enables us to get in contact with people who may not otherwise have heard of us. We often combine medical examinations of individuals with joint training in e.g. hygiene and tooth brushing.
Thousands of women work hard at the local carpet and brick factories. The workers are poor migrants from other parts of Nepal. Their homes are small sheds at the factories with no running water or toilets which makes it difficult for them to maintain good hygiene with the newborns. The lack of sanitation increases the risk of severe diarrhea in infants. Factory workers go back to work shortly after giving birth, which makes breastfeeding a problem.