It’s not every day that we get to see compassion meet commitment, and that is exactly what I witnessed during my trip to Gunsa, Sindhupalchowk. Gunsa is about 67 km to the north east of Kathmandu, which takes a 7 hour bus ride to reach. The single lane road to Gunsa is quite exhausting with lots of bumps and sharp turns along the way. Salome, another MFN volunteer and I, went to collaborate with Teach for Nepal fellows to dissemination information on health provisions in Nepal. Teach for Nepal is an initiative to make the public school system of Nepal better.
Our motive to go to the village was to meet the teachers or fellows, as they are known as, of Teach for Nepal (TFN) working there to disseminate and distribute info-graphics that explain general health rights, marginalized community’s health rights, women’s health rights, children’s’ health rights, and senior citizens’ health rights of Nepali citizens. The fellows had come together for their occasional cluster meeting conducted by Mr. Jalan Maharjan, TFN’S Leadership Development Manager for Sindhupalchowk. Our idea was to encourage the fellows to spread awareness about these rights to their students so that they can spread it to their communities. It was good to see how compassionate the fellows are about providing better education, and how committed they are to encouraging their students to become better people. Their approach to improve the public school system of Nepal was inspiring.
While we were in Gunsa, we also took a survey of the villagers regarding their health rights and facilities. I was happy to learn that they receive free medicines such as Paracetamol and Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) from the local health post. However, most of the locals are unaware of their health rights. They also claimed that their local health post has been mistreating them. According to them, the health post only opens for 4 hours a day from 10 AM to 2 PM. A woman even said that the health post officials would make fun of her during her visits to the health post. Some locals showed us medicines like eye drops, pain relieving gels, and antibiotics which were sold to them for high prices by the health post. In cases of urgent medical care and emergencies, locals travel 1 hour by foot to Manekharka village where Dhulikhel Hospital has opened up Manekharka Health Centre. The local micro hydro-power company has provided an ambulance to the village, but only some of the villagers can afford its service whose cost locals claimed to be above Rs. 15,000 back and forth the village. They were disheartened to tell us that these are their only options to receive medical treatment as they cannot afford to go to the city to get better health facilities.
What I learned about health conditions and facilities in Gunsa is downright pitiful. Even the fellows of TFN shared their own difficulties in accessing medical facilities near their schools. The call for health rights and medical assistance in Gunsa will hopefully not remain unanswered. Let us help Gunsa receive proper medication and health facilities. Here are some of the things you can do – Dial 111 for Hello Sarkar and enquire about the health condition. You can also call up the Ministry of Health and ask whether the health post is opening per their directive of 10 AM – 5 PM. Another thing you can do is write to the health minister, Mr. Gagan Thapa or the District Health Officer, Local Development Officer and the Chief District Officer and let every authority figure know that villagers of Gunsa aren’t alone in their struggle for improved life.