World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as a pandemic in March 2020. Nepal too has been affected by it. Covid-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case in Nepal was recorded in January 2020 and in subsequent months it spread in all the provinces and districts of Nepal. In Solukhumbu, as of July 2020, seven cases were recorded from the Nepalese arriving from abroad.
Himalayan Trust Nepal was quick to respond to the control of the pandemic in the Solukhumbu district. The Trust prepared response plans, proposals and approached its donors like American Himalayan Foundation, Himalayan Trust New Zealand, and Sir Edmund Hillary Stiftung Germany. Covid-19 preventive materials were procured in Kathmandu and transported to Kunde and Phaplu hospitals and over a dozen community clinics in the Solukhumbu district during the lockdown.
Phaplu and Kunde hospitals, including clinics, played crucial roles in controlling the spread of disease while providing regular medical services. With the help of Covid-19 prevention materials, health staff and medicines support, Phaplu Hospital identified 7 infections among the quarantined people. They were sent to COVID treatment hospitals and all of them managed to recover.
A) Awareness Programme
Kunde Hospital team took steps to prevent the spread of disease in the Khumbu region. The hospital team visited Monjo, Thame, Phortse, Pangboche, and Khumjung villages and delivered public awareness about Covid-19 and ways to prevent it. Kunde Hospital and its peripheral clinics set up the handwashing station at the hospital and clinic premises. Although the Nepal Government imposed a nationwide lockdown and closure of all outpatient clinics, Kunde Hospital and its peripheral clinics continued its service following safety measures despite the risk.
The regular monthly vaccination was conducted taking appropriate Covid-19 precautionary measures. Kunde Hospital faced a great challenge in rescuing emergency patients to Kathmandu who had surgical conditions but was able to send them to Kathmandu with support from the local government. The hospital team is pleased that all four patients had successful operations at Kathmandu. The preventive materials for Covid-19 received from the AHF had helped Kunde Hospital and peripheral clinics to continue its service during the pandemic and be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Whereas, HTN developed a radio jingle about Corona Virus and subscribed to Himal FM to air the jingle. Himal FM is an FM station based in Salleri with a wide range of coverage.
B) Covid-19 Preventive Materials
Kunde Hospital and Outreach Clinics
In early May 2020, the COVID-19 preventive materials for Kunde Hospital and outreach clinics reached Kunde Hospital. These materials included PPE sets, hand sanitizer, N95 masks, surgical masks, sterilized and non-sterilized gloves, thermal guns, disinfection room sprays, etc. With the financial support from the American Himalayan Foundation, HTN was able to deliver the most needed materials during these difficult times to Kunde Hospital. The materials have been used in Kunde Hospital, Thame, Phortse, Monjo, and Namche Dental clinics.