Health for All

In the recent past, Nepal has achieved dramatic progress in public health. The maternal mortality rate has come down from 539 per 100,000 live births in 1996 to 151 in 2021. Childhood malnutrition has declined sharply with stunting down from 57% to 36% in 30 years. The country’s immunisation rate is among the highest in the world while cataract surgery in Nepal has revolutionised eye care in South Asia.

And yet, health infrastructure has not kept pace. The disparity between private and government hospitals is widening.

But a few hospitals have set an example by providing quality care to the neediest often free of cost. Excerpts from the report published 20 years ago this week on issue #162 12-18 September 2003:

Land is wealth for Shiva Phatyang, a 50-year-old farmer from Dhulikhel. Yet he happily donated one ropani of his farm to Dhulikhel Hospital, saying that he was just returning it to his motherland. Seven years ago, when Phatyang met Dr Ram Shrestha, he instantly trusted that the doctor would do far more for the people than any health minister ever had.

The farmer was among 23 Dhulikhel residents who donated 28 ropanies of land to build one of Nepal's first community hospitals. What began in 1996 with just two rooms, now treats more than 59,000 patients every year from several surrounding districts. 

Children under five and pregnant women receive free treatment. The Bolde station, 45km from Dhulikhel, serves about 30,000 villagers who come here from as far as Ramechhap and Sindhuli.

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