Since June 2021, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Nepal has been collaborating with hospitals dedicated to combating COVID-19, as well as rolling out vaccine campaigns in four districts, including Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, and Rautahat.
Nepal, one of the first countries in the southern region of Asia to start a mass COVID-19 vaccination drive, had the intention of inoculating 72 percent of its eligible population above 18 years of age, but the first phase witnessed a moderate turnout of not more than 12 percent of targeted persons.
“Vaccine hesitancy and the fear of contacting the virus has kept many people at home,” says Leighton Fletcher, ADRA’s country director in Nepal.
One such person was a 25-year-old mother with a 16-month-old baby girl. The infant needed her first dose of the Measles vaccine, but the fear of encountering the COVID-19 virus at the medical facility stopped the mother from taking the baby to the doctor.
Laxmi Ghimire, a nurse who works with ADRA, personally visited the family in their home and convinced them that the health facility took precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. As a direct result of nurse Ghimire’s personal interest, the young mother took courage to go to the hospital where the baby received the necessary vaccines.
ADRA staff and volunteers were able to assist many people in this way as they began conducting awareness activities, such as the distribution of COVID-19 related pamphlets and live phone-in radio programs.
“Earlier in the year, ADRA undertook a rapid needs assessment aimed at learning to prioritize the needs of the communities and health facilities,” Fletcher says. “Data collection methods included key informant interviews with selective government representatives, social leaders, and journalists of four districts.”
The findings enabled ADRA to respond to the community’s needs and effectively assist the structure of the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, such as micro-planning for making vaccines easily accessible and prioritizing people, as well as providing training and orientations to health workers, community volunteers and journalists.
“We didn’t forget the young people,” adds Fletcher. “ADRA staff and volunteers implemented safe school protocols in 50 schools.”
In addition, ADRA supplied medical equipment and personal protective equipment, and other commodities to hospitals in Koshi, Janakpur, Bheri and Scheer Memorial Adventist Hospital in Banepa.
To learn more about what ADRA is doing in Nepal visit: www.adranepal.org.