The lockdown in Nepal has been very hard for the poor in villages throughout the country. Their only consistent source of cash income is through daily waged work on farms and building sites, brick kilns and factories, the transport infrastructure and selling their vegetable produce. With all these areas greatly reduced, many people have been relying on the diminishing stocks of food in their homes, which have been further depleted by those who were migrant workers and have returned quietly to their home villages in Nepal to escape the terrible problems in India.
Village resources have been badly strained, and it has been a privilege for our community team, with the support of the Sasakawa Health Foundation, to be able to provide food and other supplies to those in greatest need. To identify beneficiaries, our self-help groups have been valuable, being situated in places affected by deep poverty and connected to the poorest amongst those. Along with useful supplies of food and other materials, our team has been training the group members in the use of masks and the importance of hand-washing, so that they in turn can hand out masks and advice to their community members, and be a part of stemming the tide of the pandemic. This project is supporting 26 self-help groups, and those they have brought to the attention of the team.
Nepal is still coming through the second wave of the pandemic, and a third may be on its way. A lockdown is still in place local to Lalgadh, but at the moment many people seem to be still moving around, and the numbers of patients coming for help at Lalgadh are increasing. On Sunday 18th July, 400 people visited the outpatients unit for treatment, including 42 people affected by leprosy. A couple of days later, there were 4 positive Covid cases among the OPD visitors. There have been an average of 40 inpatients each day and all new admissions are taken for a Covid test in the local town before being admitted. The work is still very intense because of all the PPE and testing that has to be employed to protect staff and patients, but Lalgadh is still able to serve the community and staff are doing well.