Nepal integrates hygiene promotion with routine immunisation

Mamata Bharati is a female community health worker from Khopasi, Nepal. While creating awareness about the immunisation of children has been her role for years, it has now expanded to include educating mothers on the importance of sanitation and nutrition.

“I have been advising mothers to take their children to health centres for immunisation five times within the first nine months after birth. With the knowledge that I gained from training at Khopasi Health Centre, I am now involved in informing them about sanitation and nutrition as well,” says Bharati. “This has helped to improve the health of the child as well as the family.”

Bharati believes that the awareness campaign on sanitation coupled with routine immunisation contributed to controlling the pandemic.

“The importance of sanitation, masks and sanitiser was highlighted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020. Proper hygiene practices have a crucial role in tackling communicable diseases like COVID-19,” she adds.

Bharati feels her efforts proved fruitful. She attributes the comparatively lower effect of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Khopasi village to the promotion of sanitation and other hygienic practices.

Devaki Khadka, a female community health worker from Tikhatal, has also been informing the locals about sanitation and nutrition.

“Before the programmes targeting sanitation, diarrhoea used to claim the lives of many children. A dedicated awareness campaign on sanitation has changed things,” she shares. “I go from door to door talking about sanitation, vaccination and health. I have been advising people to wash their hands before having a meal. I also tell them about how to keep their body clean.”

Khadka also believes that the awareness campaign on sanitation was instrumental in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I motivate pregnant women to consume green vegetables, yellow fruits, beans, fish, meat, and other food items with high nutritional value in their meals,” she adds.