Nepal, one of the first countries in the southern region of Asia to start a mass COVID-19 vaccination drive, intended to inoculate 72 percent of its eligible population above 18 years of age. Still, the first phase witnessed a moderate turnout of 12 percent of targeted persons.
“Vaccine hesitancy and the fear of contracting the virus has kept many people at home,” Leighton Fletcher, ADRA’s country director in Nepal, said.
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 found the 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 said. “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. These activities include micro-planning for making vaccines easily accessible and prioritizing people. They also include training and providing orientation to health workers, community volunteers, and journalists.
“We didn’t forget the young people,” Fletcher added. “ADRA staff and volunteers implemented safe school protocols in 50 schools.”
In addition, ADRA supplied medical equipment, personal protective equipment, and other commodities to hospitals in Koshi, Janakpur, Bheri, and Scheer Memorial Adventist Hospital in Banepa.