Devastation leaves 1.26 lakh pregnant Nepal women hapless

Quake-hit nation also stares at sexual violence

Devastation leaves 1.26 lakh pregnant Nepal women hapless

This is one crisis that quake-devastated Nepal would want to avoid at any cost as a health scare stares at 1.26 lakh pregnant women in the country.

Around 21,000 women are expected to deliver in the next three months while over one lakh pregnant women are awaiting medical care in the Himalayan nation where 90 per cent of rural health infrastructure have been damaged and city hospitals are over-crowded.

Additionally, international agencies fear that another 40,000 women are at “immediate risk of sexual and gender-based violence”.

More than one United Nations organisation have painted a grim picture of women’s conditions in Nepal and have called for immediate action to ensure that they are safe.

While the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) on Monday estimated that there could be “some 50,000 pregnant women and girls” among survivors, it revised its figures two days later to 1.26 lakh pregnant women. It said there could be 20 lakh women and girls of reproductive age among those affected.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) also gave a bleak figure, saying out of the 1.26 lakh pregnant women, 21,000 would “need obstetric care in the coming three months”.

Appealing to raise $415 million for life-saving assistance and protection of over 80 lakh survivors in the next three months, the UNOCHA said that up to 90 per cent of health facilities in rural areas have been damaged. “Hospitals in district capitals, including Kathmandu, are overcrowded and lack medical supplies and capacity,” it said.

Deccan Herald had on April 30 reported from Kathmandu about Caesarean operations being conducted out in tents after Kathmandu-based hospitals were damaged in the quake.

One of the main challenges before aid agencies is to take nutrition programmes to children under five years and the pregnant and lactating mothers. The UNOCHA estimated that there are 32 million women and children among the population affected by protection concerns.

Another aim is to reach out to women of reproductive age with kits containing essentials such as soap, underwear and clothes, flashlights and sanitary napkins. There is also need for making maternal counselling by trained counsellors available to pregnant and lactating women.

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