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Integrated Women’s Health Program Implementation and Challenges

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On December 5th 2011 was a day to challenge the problems regarding Integrated Women’s Health problems. Organized by Worec-Nepal , we had various women health advocates present from various district. 

Women raised several problems and challenges in the area of women’s health in Nepal. Some of the predominant challenges that the program tried to shed light on was as follows: Providing better care and post natal care for women, better facilitation for maternity and post- natal care, understanding, documenting and establishing better care for fistula patients, discussing the amount of money that goes into women’s care and the implementation of that money. 

Dr. Sudha Sharma, stated that health is our right and should be implemented equally to all citizens. She argued that the present government of Nepal has a very women friendly integrated women’s health program. She also highlighted various achievement received by the Health Ministry of the Government of Nepal. For example: The government of Nepal received awards in the Millennium Development Goal 5. How ever, the concerns that women and women health councelors raised in today’s event highlighted a different story about the current women health situation of Nepal.

Various women health counselors representing their respective districts raised their issues such as lack of delivery beds available for women, and what kind of advocacy is women’s department doing in that matter. Women also discussed and put forth their concern about unhygienic hospital conditions, and equally horrible maternity conditions for new mothers. The shift in the uterus and bladder has no available operation to care for this problem. Women were hoping for answers to these questions and to answer their concerns we had guests present at the program. 

Gaja Rana, Vice –secretary of women, children and social ministry, tried and answer these questions to the best of his ability. He focused mainly on demanding and creating advocacy. He focused on the gender budget that the government allocates for facilitating women’s health. He informed everyone that there is 18% direct budget allocated for women’s health and 70% indirect budget. He voiced that until women reach the same decision making position as men, women will not be able to take control of the money allocated for the well being of their integrated health. He also expressed that the gender budget which is 18% of the total budget has not all been spent for women’s health problems, therefore it is our responsibility to understand and discuss how was money has actually been implemented in women’s health sector. 
Mohana Ansari, honorable member of National Women’s Commission, also raised equally disturbing issues regarding the gender budget. She voiced that the allocated budget does not go towards women’s health. For example: In Kanchanpur, women and women’s health counselors are unaware of the gender budget altogether. Recently in Kanchanpur, the gender budget which was allocated for women’s health was used towards purchasing vaccine for Rabbis and women along with women health counselors are unaware of such incidents. Therefore to make sure the money gets implemented in its right place, women and women health counselors need to be aware of the budget allocated for them. 

Renu Rajbhandari,f talked about issues concerning government and how they think women’s health is only physical, but we need to remind them that women’s health is physical, mental and social peace. If a woman is in pain reminding them that they are second class citizens, by unconcerned medical care, will worsen their mental, physical and social stability. Our country is getting more and more globalized; therefore our government pays more attention to International agency rather than the voices of their own citizens. The government needs to advocate for women’s needs not through International agencies but rather through their own citizenship. 
Taking the same gender budget into concern, Dr. Rajbhandari raised concern that people need to understand how is the money allocated for gender budget should be taken into consideration. In the same way Women’s Commission should raise various Policy issues and intervene in various cases to see where the money is being spent. Moreover, she also voiced how commitment toward construtctive engagement is necessary, and advacation is essential. 

Dr. Rajbhandari discussed the important issue of Fistuala cases. She argued that until last year people didn’t know or discuss about Fistula cases. However, with the last year, with the help of the media and UNFPA we were able to shed light on the issue of Fistula disease and how it affects women. Fistula is also violence against women’s health, and discussing this violation and correcting it should be our concern. Through advocacy 32 operations were successfully performed at Dharan and Patan hospital. Thus through advocacy ending this problem is achievable. Thus its time to discuss and raise this issue to make our voices heard.

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