Article by Deepak Raj Sapkota, Founder and Executive Director of Karuna Foundation Nepal.
The emergence of COVID-19 is a profound shock to all around the globe. It has changed the lives of all regardless of age, gender and economic well-being worldwide. If the pandemic spreads in developing countries like Nepal where there is lack of preparedness towards scaling up of the healthcare system the impact would be severe. As the fear grips, the government of Nepal prompted for the country in a state of lockdown starting 24 March with extension four times in a row until 7th May for now. The government has also taken its effort to prevent spreading of the Covid-19 in the country with testing centres spreading over the country, though in a lesser number. Even if the few cases (54 as of 28 April 2020) are detected, the number of affected people can multiply rapidly in the days to come.
This situation demands civil society organizations to support country’s health care system since Nepal’s hospitals and laboratories are not well equipped to test the potential patients and keep them in isolation thereafter provide them proper care. As frontline workers, doctors, nurses, health professionals and more are working and making critical contributions to address the outbreak every day, civil society organizations have also an essential role to play during this tumultuous time. In this backdrop, Karuna Foundation Nepal could not stay aloof and thereby rolled up the sleeves and has been extending small effort to contribute for combating COVID-19 with focus to Province 1 (out of seven provinces in Nepal) where the core work of KFN lies.
In particular, Karuna Foundation Nepal supported a provincial level hospital designated for treatment of COVID-19 cases in Province 1, with health care equipment and necessities that ranged from cardiac monitor, ICU bed to Personal Protective Equipment in the presence of Social Development Minister of the province.
Likewise, Karuna Foundation Nepal partnered with local National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN) to provide medical devices to persons with disabilities to cater to their routine medical needs.
The organization tricked down its support to the local government in the second phase where a total of 69 municipalities of seven different districts were reached with emergency health equipment and devices consisting of infrared thermometer, PPE, N95 masks, sand sanitizer, surgial gloves, among few others. This support in small have enabled the health facilites in those municipalities act safe to prevent any possible cross infection. Meanwhile, the team at Karuna has been gauging if there would be any emergency food supplies need for which the team have already planned, if needed. These food supplies will reach the most vulnerable groups like persons with disabilities and their families, pregnant and recently delivered mothers.
Karuna has not only supported with relief materials, our Community Based Rehabilitation Facilitators (CBRFs) appointed under our core program, Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Program who have health backgroudn by training have also been contributing significantly in the health faciities of their respective palikas to make the health system functional. Concurrently, the team members have been working remotely using digital applications like Microsoft team, Zoom and Skype. All in all the world will get back to normal sooner or later and Karuna definitely committed to fight and support the country to combat the pandemic.