Nepal – City slum dwellers’ health condition appalling
KATHMANDU, March 6: Even after more than two years of the announcement of free birth services and an encouragement allowance to promote delivery at government hospitals, a survey has revealed that many women living in slum areas of Kathmandu are either unaware of it or reluctant to benefit from the free service.
Of the total births in Kathmandu slums, 40 percent took place without medical assistance, according to the survey conducted in 2009\2010 by Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC). Such deliveries can lead to complications in the health of both the mother and the newborn.
The Maternity Hospital at Thapathli, where a record number of deliveries take place, sees two to five post-natal women with complications resulting from at-home delivery every day. According to Dr Lata Bajracharya, director of the hospital, most of the cases are related to excessive bleeding. In some cases, the new born children also suffer complications.
The KMC survey also shows 50 percent pregnant women living in slums do not go for any kind of pregnancy tests and that seven percent of people living in slums do not seek medical help for any ailment.
Mortality during delivery for women in slums stands at two percent. Of those seeking medical help, 45 percent visit government hospitals. Only 27 percent can afford treatment at private hospitals and nursing homes.
Immunization figures for slum dwellers are also alarming.
Thirty-three percent of children in the slum settlements have not been immunized, according to the survey. Most people living in the settlements suffer from diarrhea, dysentery, fever, typhoid, jaundice and respiratory problems.
During the survey, 10 percent people living in the slums said they have respiratory problems, seven percent said they themselves or their family members have jaundice, while four percent said they have typhoid. There are 28 slum settlements in the Kathmandu valley.