Top Ten Public Health Issues in Nepal
The seasonal diarrheal diseases and respiratory diseases affect substantial number of children in Nepal leading to deaths and developmental delays. The malnourished and undernourished children are equally prevalent and Hence childhood diseases are still the number one priority in public health in Nepal. Neonatal mortality rate (21 per 1000), infant mortality rate (32 per 1000) and under 5 mortality rate (39 per 1000), are still high enough making it number one public health problem in Nepal.
Water and Sanitation
There are 38% of households without improved sanitary facilities in Nepal.
Maternal and perinatal health problems
Still women in Nepal die during pregnancy and childbirth due to untimely management of complications such as antepartum hemorrhage, postpartum hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia. This is especially intensified by lack of adequate facilities and manpower in rural area of the country. Even though the tertiary level care facilities are available in major cities, many parts of the countries are devoid of such care and it takes several hours or days to reach to such care resulting in delays in care, subsequently fatal consequences to many women and children.
Sexual transmitted diseases and Other communicable diseases
Tuberculosis is endemic in Nepal. Vector borne diseases such as malaria, Leishmaniasis (Kala-azar), Dengue, are also endemic in certain tropical regions (plains) of the Nepal. sexually transmitted disease such as HIV/AIDS is present as concentrated epidemic in certain groups such as sex workers, intravenous drug users, migrant workers, wives of migrant workers.
Epidemics/Pandemics and zoonotic diseases
Most of the pandemics are the zoonotic diseases; they contract human easily as they are novel and human are susceptible due to their inability to fight against new diseases as they lack antibodies and memory cells against such diseases. The recent phenomena of unregulated mass production of poultry and close living provision with the animals also leads to the zoonotic diseases.
The occurrence of the non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart diseases and other cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney diseases have surged along with modernization in life style. They are leading reasons of mortality and burden of diseases.
Natural disaster and preparedness
Nepal is continuously at risk of natural disaster due to its topographical/geographical features. Nepal is at constant threat of earthquakes as this lies in the Himalayan range; the floods during the rainy seasons pose equal threat to the lives of the residents of Hills and plain. The massive earthquake in 2015, the frequent landslides and yearly floods in the major rivers of Nepal create a chaotic condition that requires immediate attention of every sectors including public health professionals. As people in such situations are at risk of so many health problems such as injuries, diarrheal disease epidemic, devoid of water and sanitation, food and security, they require immediate first aid, safe sanitation and water facilities, food, security, reproductive health services and mental health counselling and management. Disaster preparedness and effective communication channel are must have public health program in Nepal.
Substance use disorders
Alcoholic dependence and liver diseases are very common in those people though they are under-focused by the current health system. Alcohol dependence not only affect the health of the sufferer, it also affects the social relationship, economy and family relationship. Tobacco use is also a common substance and its use is ubiquitous in the form of smoking, chewing form in Nepal; shisha hookah is established as recent trend among youth. Other substances like Marijuana, Heroine are also threatening public health concern to the youth of Nepal.
Disparity in Health system
Though the number of hospitals and number of health professionals are increased significantly in last two decades, people from the rural area and poor of urban areas don’t have adequate access to health care. Disparity in health care access is affected by different elements ranging from individual attributes such as ignorance fueled by low education, low income; to systematic biases created by the system and policies.
Mental health Problems
The years long political conflicts, low economy, disasters, increasing social distances, individualistic life approach, high pressure for achievement, rapid urbanization, employment abroad etc. aggravate the mental health need of the population.
VIN has been implementing Public health and Medical care program in three districts of Nepal to address the above issues. Our public health approach is to create healthy communities. For this we worked with local community health institutions. We do medical care, public health education (focus with women and children), school health, health camps, first aid and Yoga projects. Public health professionals and volunteers are involved into the project to meet the target of the projects.
– Dr. Laxmi Pd Ghimire
Program Manager (Volunteers Initiative Nepal)
- Nepal Demography Health survey report 2016