Nepal’s oldest maternity hospital is still recovering from the April 2015 earthquake; its main building had to be demolishing after earning a red sticker because of its structural damage. Soon, it will move into a new seismic-resistant wing, designed to withstand future earthquakes.
For now, the hospital is working out of temporary cramped quarters offering only 375 beds out of the normal 415. But when the new building is inaugurated next month, the hospital will have more capacity, lecture rooms, an emergency ward, operating theatres and an ante-natal section. The project is supporting the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); builting consultant Hazama Ando and is expecting to be hand over on 15 May.
Health facilities across Nepal
The 2015 earthquake damaged 1,197 health facilities across Nepal; offering them a chance to rebuild so they can withstand future quakes. A survey done before the 2015 disaster had shown that of the 14 hospitals tested in Kathmandu; but 2 (Teaching Hospital and Patan Hospital, built the Japanese) were seismic resistant. The situation in other parts of the country was even worse.
JICA is working to rebuild modern and safe hospital wings at Paropakar Maternity Hospital (pictured, right); and Bir Hospital, both in Kathmandu. They will enjoy advanced technologies like motion-sensor taps in order to reduce infections in washrooms; flush systems that reuse water from handwashing, handicapped-friendly toilets and treatment plants for hospital waste.
Elsewhere in the quake-affected areas, however, reconstruction of health facilities is not going as well. Only 55% of the health posts and hospitals that were damaging or destroying was repairing; according to the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).
“The construction of hospitals was delayed due to technical reasons; but now they are our top priority,” says Manohar Ghimire of the NRA. “Of the 643 structures built, most are pre-fab structures which have already been handed over; but to the communities. Now we are focusing on rebuilding the rest.”
The reconstruction of health facilities was delaying; because the central government could not agree on who should rebuild them. The Ministry of Health and Population had planned to do it, before passing it on to the NRA almost a year after the earthquake, where the plans faced further delays. That cost a total delay of two years, resulting in a reconstruction rate of only 53%, when the target was 65%.
Of the 524 medical facilities need to rebuilt, 145 are under construction; while the rest seem to be inordinately delaying due to technical reasons. “Many health centers do not have their own land, and there are no guidelines for buying land. We can only build on already available land,” says Pranaya Upadhyaya, senior Public Health Administrator at the Ministry of Health. “Before the earthquake, many were operating from schools or other government buildings.
But now we have strict standards for medical facilities including size of land, type of soil, etc. The institutes that are having a hard time fulfilling these criteria are the one that are delayed”. Upadhyay informs that work has not begun on the 250 health centers; that the Indian government committed to, which contributes to the reason more than 500 of them remain to be built.