Nepal is ranked 157 on the World Health Organization’s 2013 Human Development Index. It is one of the toughest countries in the world to provide health care access. This is due in part to geography as Nepal is situated in the Himalayas and hosts eight of the ten tallest mountains in the world and to the inability of the government to provide adequate services.
With a 25 percent poverty rate to contend with, and a 10-year-long insurgency which spread instability throughout the country and exacerbated poverty, the people of Nepal have had to rely on international aid and community resources for health care.
One nonprofit in particular is working to improve Nepal’s health care and harnesses the inherent reliance the people have on each other. Mark Arnoldy is the 27-year-old founder of Possible Health, an organization that works to provide health care to people in the most challenging of environments.
“We want to work through a network of partners to build a health care model such that the poor around the world can really have high quality low-cost health care regardless of where they were born,” Arnoldy explains.
Located primarily in Nepal’s rural regions, the organization has connected 173,469 Nepalese people to health care since 2008.
USAID is also working in Nepal through programs created exclusively for the country. For example, the Program for the Enhancement of Emergency Response, or PEER, helps reduce health risks after natural disasters.
Himalayan Healthcare is another nonprofit which seeks to fill in the gaps left by unstaffed and undersupplied government programs. President of the Himalayan Healthcare Board, Dr. Robert McKersie, understands the importance of community support in Nepal.
A community center is successful, explains Dr. McKersie by “having input from the local stakeholders from day number one.”
This is a philosophy that Dr. McKersie believes the U.S. could learn from as well in its debate over government involvement in health care.
Himalayan Healthcare’s co-founder, Anil Parajuli, summarizes the situation in Nepal: “Rural Nepal, almost universally, has mostly rudimentary health care services which are inadequate but still go a long way if caring village health providers are available.”
— Julianne O’Connor