Press Release

Critical Food Aid and Medical Care Provided to Drought Victims in Mugu and Humla Districts of Nepal

26 October 2006
Author: UNFPA

KATHMANDU, Nepal — The United Nations World Food Programme and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, have joined forces to provide essential food aid and reproductive health care to hundreds of drought-affected families in Mugu and Humla districts of Nepal.

In response to WFP field monitors reporting a high prevalence of illnesses among families in the district, WFP requested UNFPA to conduct mobile reproductive health clinics during planned WFP food distributions in the area. “We think jointly reaching out to the country’s most isolated citizens is the way to go. WFP and UNFPA’s very ‘retail’ or people-oriented approach in Nepal could serve as a model for the region,” said WFP’s Country Representative, Richard Ragan.

“There is an urgent need to provide reproductive health services in remote areas to address life-threatening concerns”, said Junko Sazaki, UNFPA Representative to Nepal. “We were very pleased to receive this request from WFP and immediately organized a three day reproductive health camp for the people of Mugu and Humla.”

During the dawn to dusk health clinics, medical staff treated nearly 2000 people with half of the service users being female. Health workers provided antenatal and post-natal care, treatments for sexually transmitted infection, urinary tract infections, infertility as well as for common illnesses such as dysentery, gastritis, asthma, and malnutrition. Health workers also provided treatments to women with prolapsed uterus, one of the major reproductive health concerns in Nepal.

WFP distributed rice and wheat soy blend rations to nearly 5000 people coming from eight VDCs in Mugu and Humla districts. UNFPA distributed medicines to patients and to local health clinics in desperate need of supplies.

Ms. Lalmaya Nepali, age 30, of Natharpu VDC reported, “This joint activity provided a rare opportunity to obtain check ups and treat our whole family and at the same time we were able to receive much needed food. I have never seen such programme in the past. I hope it continues.”

“Some of the people treated by our staff had never seen a doctor before,” mentioned Junko Sazaki. “Working in partnership with WFP in delivering outreach services gives us the opportunity to address more efficiently the high level of needs for health care in remote areas, especially reproductive health.”

WFP’s efforts to distribute food to over 225,000 drought-affected people in 10 districts of Mid- and Far-Western Nepal are expected to continue next week, with Jumla and Humla as the next target districts. WFP and UNFPA wish to continue their joint relief actions.

“WFP’s role in distributing food aid to drought-affected communities is clearly essential in order to save lives. However, by combining WFP’s food aid with UNFPA reproductive health and preventative care services, we have been able to not only reduce deaths among the poorest in Nepal, but greatly improve the quality of their lives,” said Ragan. “We found that many of the people we were feeding couldn’t remember the last time they saw a health professional so this approach makes sense and we hope to do more of it.”

***

Contact Information:

World Food Programme: WFP Country Representative Richard Ragan or Communications Officer, Heather Sutliff, (heather.sutliff@wfp.org) at 554-2607 or 553-5694

UNFPA: UNFPA Programme Officer, Sudha Pant, (pant@unfpa.org) or Communications Officer, Stephanie Vidal, (vidal@unfpa.org), at 552-3637

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