Accessing health rights
Accessing health rights

Kathahawa is a small Muslim community in Nawalparasi West near Nepal’s southern border with India. Muslim women were culturally restricted to their homes so they were unaware of the health services available, resulting in many health issues. They were also not allowed to use any family planning methods.

Tarjun Nesa is from a Muslim community. It was difficult to convince her and her family to join a Health Mothers Group (HMG) in the past, but after UMN’s partner INDRENI supported reform of these groups through a community health project in her area, Tarjun joined one in 2020. The IRCH* project seeks to address the health issues faced by women, raise awareness on community health, and to improve health service quality, including increasing women’s access to reproductive health services and information.

Tarjun has two children – four and one and half years old. During her first pregnancy, she didn’t have regular antenatal care (ANC) as she wasn’t allowed to go outside her house, so she couldn’t check her and her child’s health condition. After joining the HMG she learned about reproductive health, family planning, safe motherhood, WASH and more. She then realised some of the risks which could have happened to her and her child during her first pregnancy.

She shared about the topics she learned with her husband, who was supportive. During her second pregnancy, she received full support on health from her family. She had the four suggested ANC checkups which made her eligible to receive the cash incentive provided by the Nepal government, and she also took the three postnatal care checkups.

The female community health volunteer also created a supportive environment for her family. This year, Tarjun used a long-term family planning method – an implant which works for five years, which was not allowed culturally in the Muslim community earlier. The project is supporting the increased provision of implant services from local health facilities.

Tarjun shared, “After becoming a HMG member, I learnt a lot about women’s and child health. Now my family is convinced about accessing health services, including family planning. Many other Muslim women are also using family planning methods.” Tarjun has also developed her confidence – she can now speak openly and engages in good discussions during meetings. She is active in imparting the things she knows about family planning, pregnancy care and safe motherhood to women in her community.

The IRCH project has been working towards combatting harmful practices hindering health and, from the family to community level, breaking the barriers to accessing health services. Breaking this barrier for and by a Muslim woman is a symbol that many more women from marginalised communities are overcoming these barriers and being empowered.

Key Highlights:

  • 1,490 women received family planning implant services. Out of them, 108 are Muslim women.
  • 2,170 women from remote settlements have received home-based postnatal care services.
  • 134 woman received emergency transportation support due to complicated delivery.
  • 89 women received uterine prolapse treatment.

* Integrated Rural Community Health

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