USAID commemorates partnership to save the lives of mothers and children in Nepal
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID/Nepal) and Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) organized an event to commemorate the closure of its flagship five-year Nepal Family Health Program II (NFHP II)on Thursday.
NFHP II built on the successes of the first Nepal Family Health Program to bring renewed efforts to: strengthen Government of Nepal health systems, policy, and leadership; enhance public health service delivery; increase access to and utilization of health services especially by marginalized populations; increase community participation in health service management; and advance global best practices in family planning, maternal and child health services, according to a press release issued by USAID/Nepal to inform about the termination of the project.
Implemented across 22 districts of Nepal, the program supported Nepal in improving the delivery of maternal and child health services to accelerate achievement of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). A study published in the international peer-reviewed public health journal, The Lancet, attributed the high use and acceptance of family planning in Nepal through long-term investments by USAID, as one of the long-term donors working with the Government to expand access to quality family planning counseling and service delivery. USAID-supported efforts through NFHP II have also contributed to dramatically reduce deaths among Nepalese children.
The program is also recognized internationally for its role in piloting and expanding game-changing innovations like misoprostol, a tablet popularly referred to as the “mother saving pill”, through a low-cost, community-driven initiative aimed at reducing the number of women dying due to excessive bleeding during childbirth, the cause of nearly a quarter of maternal deaths in the country. Similarly, program introduced chlorohexidine, an antiseptic lotion to reduce infections in newborn babies. This antiseptic is applied to umbilical cord stumps and was shown to reduce neonatal mortality by 23%.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Padam Bahadur Chand, Chief, Policy Planning and International Cooperation Division, Ministry of Health and Population, said, “USAID has provided continuous bilateral support to Nepal’s health system since 1950, and this support has been one of the major contributing factors for the remarkable decline we’ve seen in our maternal and child mortality. Over the past 5 years, NFHP II has assisted the Ministry of Health and Population in a range of national and district level efforts from health policy development to working with district health offices to strengthen the quality of maternal and neonatal services, ensure quality for family planning services and management of childhood illness. The program also assisted the government with entrusting responsibility for service delivery to the districts and VDCs through support for the Local Governance Strengthening Program, and strengthening the health facility operations management committees. In these activities, with strong USAID support, NFHP II has been a good partner in addressing Nepal’s important health issues.”
Building on Dr. Chand’s statements, USAID Mission Director, David C. Atteberry remarked, “For over six decades, USAID has been a consistent partner in the health sector, and the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey has clearly shown that our investments have paid off. Child mortality declined by a remarkable 54% in the last 15 years, while maternal mortality declined from 539 to 281 deaths per 100,000 live births in the last 10 years. Nepal has truly shown the world what can be accomplished with sound approaches, fruitful partnerships between government and development partners and a commitment to reaching every segment of the population, including the most remote and disadvantaged. We look forward to continuing this strong partnership well into the future.”
The dissemination event was attended by key stakeholders from the Government of Nepal, other development partners, and media. The $30 million NFHP II was funded by USAID and implemented by JSI Research and Training and 13 other partners. nepalnews.com