By Ayush Karki
Lalitpur, Nepal — Overlooking the scenic view of the capital city Kathmandu, lies Dalchoki village, nestled amongst the hills to the south. The village is just 90 minutes’ drive away from Kathmandu, and yet is just beginning to benefit from basic services, thanks to the newly built road.
A local of the village, Anita Ghyawa vividly remembers the afternoon of 25 April 2015. She was watching television at home just like any other normal Saturday. But, it wasn’t a normal day, it was the day when Nepal suffered from one of the deadliest disasters in over 80 years — the earthquake. Anita remembers her mother screaming and the entire family getting out of the house.
“Our house shook wildly, luckily however, it withstood the tremors with just some cracks on the walls, unlike many houses in the village that fell down” Anita reminiscences. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake and its numerous aftershocks claimed thousands of lives and caused immense destruction in the capital Kathmandu and surrounding districts. Across the country over 1,200 health facilities such as hospitals and health posts were completely or partially damaged. The earthquake brought down the health post in Dalchoki too.
Much has changed in Anita’s personal life since the devastating earthquake. Back then she was still single. Now, she is married and a proud mother of a nine-month-old daughter.
“Although the old health post of my village was destroyed, the medical services were still provided from under the tent” says Anita. “I gave birth to my daughter Aahana in the tent. If that service wasn’t available, I would have had to travel to another village Tikathali, which even now is a two-hour journey in a public transport.
A lot of women in Nepal lose lives while making long commutes to the nearest health post. These days, the locals of Dalchoki are ecstatic with their new possession, a brand new prefabricated health post constructed with support from UNICEF. The post is prefabricated to withstand earthquakes in the future and is well equipped with human resources and medical supplies.
The facility is led by an in charge and two mid-wives. According to the health post in charge, Mr Badri Mahato, the Dalchoki Health Post started providing services even before the official handover. Three women delivered their babies in Dalchoki Health Post within the first month of operation. The post has an out-patient clinic, delivery room and ante/postnatal ward. The delivery room has the latest medical equipment such as — suction machine to remove mucous from baby’s mouth, a radiant warmer with a monitor that displays the baby’s pulse and breath and keeps them warm. Likewise, construction is still underway to supply drinking water to the centre and solar panels are being set up to ensure hot water supply.
Provision of the medical equipment at Dalchoki and 73 other pre-fabricated health posts being built by UNICEF in the earthquake-affected districts were made possible thanks to the generous support from Japan National Committee for UNICEF.
Anita Ghyawa often visits the new health post for regular checkups and vaccines for her daughter. She is pleased with the services provided in the post., which is much more than the facilities she had seen and received in the tent, when she delivered Aahana. “This new health post is very important for people from our villages, for they don’t have to travel far to receive services. A lot of illness can be cured here itself,” says Anita.
Just like Dalchoki Health Post, UNICEF is currently supporting construction of 74 health posts in earthquake affected districts. Out of these, 14 prefabricated health posts including Dalchoki are supported by the Leo Messi Foundation. The construction materials for the health posts were procured from China. The supplies made a month-long journey from China to the construction sites via various transport medium such as ships, lorries, carried by animals and porters.