Volunteering has always fascinated me from a very young age.
From high school to medical college and later after graduation, I have always been part of volunteering groups to contribute to growth of the groups themselves and to the social development of communities in general.
Volunteering in Nepal is exciting and resourceful in terms of knowledge sharing, cultural diversity and dynamism of actors in different sectors.
The health sector in Nepal comprises the central level with the Ministry of Health, and peripheral level with regional, zonal and district health institutions. Strengthening the health system in districts of Jhapa and Morang in order to increase access to the health services is the main objective of my work.
Through the health task force team that I contributed to form, we have conducted an assessment to identify the needs in four health facilities, two hospitals and two health posts and provide support accordingly in order to strengthen the existing health services. The needs were in terms of medical and laboratory equipment, infrastructure equipment and trainings to health staff for human resource capacity building.
While strengthening the system, we had to keep monitoring the quality of health services provided and how communities access them. The identified challenges that are preventing access, distance, transport cost, cost of health services, unavailability of some services, are regularly addressed and discussed through joint monitoring visits and coordination meetings that I lead myself.
I have to monitor day to day health services including health promotion and education, as well as curative services, medical consultations, medical referral arrangements and feedback and make statistical monthly reports.
Different clubs and groups—from youth to women—are formed and supported in their respective activities which all aim to improve health and wellbeing of their communities. The involvement of communities is a key factor towards the success of health programs, which is the reason why we call them to participate and contribute in relevant health strategic or planning meetings.
The health system in Nepal is improving towards the universal health coverage part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the recent introduction of the health insurance scheme under the National Social Health Security Programme. The registration and enrollment of members is going on and we believe that it will enhance access to health services in coming years.
If well implemented, the Nepali health sector strategy will boost achievement of the SDGs; it is good in terms of being open and inclusive to alternative practices like Ayurveda medicine, yoga. However, health governance and leadership has to be strong and address the equity gaps in health services and keep strengthening the system to achieve sustainable high quality of health services.
I am grateful to UNV for providing me the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of Nepal health system, sharing my experience and knowledge and at the same time learning and familiarizing with the rich, diverse Nepali culture.
About the Author
Erick Vladescu Ayirwanda is a UN Volunteer working with UNHCR