Dhan Bahadur Fadera, the health assistant at Rugin Health Post, says that the plight of women in Humla, Mugu, Jumla, Kalikot and Dolpa districts of northwestern Nepal is the same. “I estimate that 80% of the women here deliver their babies in cowsheds, which is why the infant and maternal mortality rates have not gone down like in the rest of the country,” says Fadera, who has worked all over Karnali Province.
Chinkala Chadara of Hyanglu village of Mugu delivered her baby in her cowshed this month despite living next door to a health post. “We do not go to health posts; none of the women I know are taken there,” she says simply. Even if the mothers deliver in a health facility, they have to go to the shed when they come home with the baby.
“We tell them that it is not right to stay in cowsheds, but they don’t listen to us,” says Chiranjivi Shahi, head of Swamikartik Khapar Rural Municipality.
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