On July 21st, Deer Express Club, Literature Club and DWIT News Club from Deerwalk Institute of Technology in collaboration with Medication for Nepal organised Mega Debate Event- a debate competition focusing on a health issue in Nepal. With enormous participation and great enthusiasm from the organizing team as well as students, the event was successful. Being a student ambassador for Medication for Nepal, it was a matter of great pleasure for me to serve as an organizer representing both Medication for Nepal and Deerwalk Institute of Technology.
The debate was held in Nepali and was based on British Parliamentary Debate Style. I would like to cite the topics of the debate – ‘नेपालमा गर्भपतन कानुनी हुनुपर्छ कि गैरकानुनी?’ which translates to – ‘Should abortion in Nepal be legal or illegal?’. The debate topic was chosen to align with the objectives of MFN to aware people about various health rights and provisions provided by the government of Nepal. It was intended to bring about ideas in youth that were very closely related to the health sector of Nepal.
Abortion has been one of the topic of discussion these days. Lack of proper education has helped to increase the rate of illegal abortion, so this debate raised few important things to ponder. For example, has legal bound in abortion really helped to decrease this number or served as a restriction to discuss this issue freely in society? Will legalizing it accelerate the number of abortions? These kinds of serious issues were debated upon by the participants.
The debate started with a health rights awareness session by staffs from Medication for Nepal. The debating participants came with various new ideas and arguments. The contestants were judged on basis of their strong reasoning and presentation skills. The winning team, 1st runner up, best speaker and best female speaker were awarded with various prizes. The Closing Government team Takdir Bartaula and Mandip Prasai with their hard facts and sharp arguments won the first place. While the Closing Opposition team Sabina Shrestha and Mallika Adhikari with their counter arguments and strong point of views secured the first runner up prize. Takdir Bartaula, who had delivered his words with great confidence, precision, and hard facts was given the Best Speaker award and Maunta Rani Gautam with her strong arguments and confidence was awarded as the Best Female Speaker.
Maunta Gautam, the best female speaker said “I love participating in public speaking platforms but Nepali debate was something I had never tried before. The experience as a participant was overwhelming and exciting as well for me because I got the chance to explore myself. I also felt very honed and that I received the award in spite of my nervousness. I feel these kind of platforms should be provided even more to enhance and build the public speaking skills for an individual”.
The debate was not only intended to bring out ideas from discussion. It was also a platform to learn public speaking and effective oratory skills. As an organizer and student ambassador for Medication for Nepal, this was a golden opportunity for me to learn and disseminate what I have gained through my affiliation to Medication for Nepal. I have been with Medication for Nepal for almost a year now and I believe this kind of learning, serving and doing will hone my leadership ability in days to come.
Few days back, when I explained about the health facilities to female heath volunteers, I was motivated to do similar presentation at my village too. My neighbors, friends and relatives appreciated me and it encouraged me to do some more. Cold early morning, just a 10 minute walk from my home, I attended a regular meeting of those females who were involved in social clubs. Most of them were married females who were taking responsibilities of their family so it was a great opportunity to present myself in front of them. Among the crowd one female was in her postnatal period and another was pregnant. After meeting was over, I presented myself as a volunteer of medication for Nepal.
I explained each and every health facilities that Nepal government is providing to general people and to marginalized and poor people. Most of them were aware about the free medication to some extent but not aware what are the diseases can be treated with the free medications. They were quite curious about the maternal health and child health facilities. During the interaction session, I came to know that majority of the females didn’t know about the health facilities to old age group. Like I had experience before with female health volunteers, these women also didn’t know about the diseases like Parkinson and Alzheimer’s. I tried to explain them what I know. They dint know about the health facilities that are given to poor people ( bipanna) . They didn’t know about the free checkup to infants (below 1 years). They also didn’t know about those facilities for kidney disease, cardio vascular disease and head and spinal cord injury. Yes, I found the difference between the female health volunteers whom I met at District health office and those poor women at my village. They were complaining about the essential medicine too. Some of them said, they had purchased medications like calcium tablets, iron tablets and Vitamin which is supposed to be given by government.
They were complaining about nepotism. They said that the health workers at government health institute provide the free medication to his/her own people but, they are deprived of it. They hardly get the plenty of medication and finally they have to rush to private clinic for treatment and medication.
During the session they were curious about the different diseases. They had lots of question how to get those health facilities, and I explained them in detail. I had to explain 3 times the procedure of getting health facilities to poor people. I tried to explain them about those diseases which can be treated at hospital and they get free medication. Majority of them just know about free medication for Tuberculosis. Finally, their question was “what if I don’t get those health services?” And I ask them to note down the number of hello Sarkar. They were quite positive and excited about it. With a hope and expectation they thanked me a lot. It was my duty to make aware to those females who don’t know anything about health. I really felt satisfied with my nursing education and serving my own people that too in understandable language.
This story is a featured story of a nursing student Binita Khatiwada who went to Taplejung(her hometown) for her holiday. She helped us by reaching out to that area and disseminating information from infographics about our health rights.
Constitution of Nepal states that everyone has the right to free basic healthcare. Yet, the most remote and marginalized people – those in most need of these rights – are largely unaware of those rights. The survey in Helambu’s 5 VDC showed that everybody was purchasing medications that they were supposed to get for free such as Cetamol, ORS, and cold tablets. They were traveling to Banepa and Kathmandu to get plasters on their broken limbs and for baby delivery.
Experts have spoken from different angles about those health rights, and there is a consensus that more needs to be done to close this knowledge gap and to help people access those rights. The goal of the conference was to invite health rights experts, constitution rights experts, and government officials to help us understand the rights and how to access those rights. Furthermore, we featured young initiatives and youth who are leading by examples. We invited:
Dr. Nastu Sharma, Country Director of One Heart World Wide, who presented comprehensively about the different health provisions in places by Government of Nepal.
Indu Tuladhar, Human Rights Lawyer, spoke about the provision our constitution provides to patients and every citizens.
Dr. Surendra Bhandari, Constitutional Lawyer, presented his views on future of public health sector.
Prakash Ghimire, Senior Auxiliary Health Worker from Management Division of Nepal, who shed light on some of the most evasive topic such as who is considered “Bippana barga” – ultra poor. Apparently, it is self-declared in Nepal.
Grishma Maharjan and Sangita KC of Nepal Psychological Society, who are working to improve the mental health education system and awareness of importance of mental health.
Dr. Kshitiz C Paudel, medical director of Amppipal Community Hospital, and MD (General Practice), who inspired the entire audience on the need to work for the greater good of the community. Watch the video here
Dr. Sarad Baral, DHO of Accham, who has been serving the community in one of the most remote parts of Nepal. He believes the way to improve health care is community supervision because he says he can’t be everywhere, “It greatly helps me to supervise when the community starts supervising the health sector as well”.
Dr. Saroj Dhital, Founder of Kathmandu Model Hospital, and a surgeon who has been working to create a strong community of professionals to improve the health care system of Nepal.
For the audience, the key take away was very clear – lots needs to be done to strengthen the health care system of Nepal and there is a lot of non-medical professionals can do to support the health care system.
We will be creating lots of new multimedia content about what we learned from the conference and forming partnerships across the board to make sure we try to reach every corner of Nepal.
Medication for Nepal has had the honor of consulting some of the most esteemed doctors, health experts and dedicated social sector professionals who have been wholeheartedly doing everything they can to improve the health sector of Nepal. The amount of knowledge and information that we gained through these meetings were enormous, and to build on that and take the knowledge flow and expertise sharing to the next level, we want to once again bring together these experts to debunk and discuss health care rights in Nepal.
On September 11th 2016, an event has been organized by Medication for Nepal, where experts from different fields – Health, Media, Engineering, and Social Sector will come together to create an aligned strategy to improve the health care system in Nepal. After gathering information about Health Rights, Policies and how to access them, we will get help from engineers, and technology experts, to develop partnerships that help us make health rights a priority agenda item across industries, and to create new channels to disseminate health rights information to the masses via new or local media. The event will be held at Leapfrog Technology Offices, Charkhal from 9:30am to 2pm.
With this event, we aim to grant every individual access to simple and factual information about their health rights.
We ran a survey in Helambu (5 VDCs) to get a sense of health rights awareness with a health of partner organization, and we found out that everyone purchased basic medicines – Cetamol, ORS, cold medicines, that they are supposed to get for free, 75% of the population were oblivious to the fact that Government of Nepal provides up to 1 lakh of treatment support for nine different disease areas. 25% people knew about this provision however none had ever seen it in practice. They are largely unaware of having any health rights at all, let alone how to claim them or file a complaint for non-compliance.
People are unaware about other important health information such as, basic essential medications to be available for free in public health posts, free heart surgery treatment for children below 15 years, free Dialysis treatment for diabetic patients and many more. MFN would like to fill this information gap with this event by collecting and disseminating valuable health information to the public. Our mission is to ultimately strengthen the public health care system of Nepal.