There is definitely a need for improved health services for the 29.13 million population with approximately 79.85% people residing in rural areas, 21% of the population living below absolute poverty line, and about 29% of the population being multidimensional poor. - Business 360 Business 360

There is definitely a need for improved health services for the 29.13 million population with approximately 79.85% people residing in rural areas, 21% of the population living below absolute poverty line, and about 29% of the population being multidimensional poor.

Srijana Pandey’s association with Ek Ek Paila began in 2016 supporting the fund raising events ‘Music For Medicine’ initiated by Dr. Suman Thapa. The fundraising was done to conduct free health camps in rural areas of Nepal like Mugu and Manang. Since then her engagement with Ek Ek Paila has been very active. Being a banking professional for more than two decades, she understands the importance of infrastructural projects for the economic and social development of people living in rural and remote Nepal. She has always felt the need for a better health system in Nepal especially in the rural areas. With Ek EK Paila she is highly inspired to contribute to this need.

How is Ek Ek Paila funded? And how do you allocate the funds?

Ek EK Paila so far is funded by local donors. Ek Ek Paila has so far conducted 19 health camps mostly in rural Nepal. The funds raised for the health camps were mostly from local people, a few institutions as part of their CSR programme, and with the local government’s help too .

In April 24 last year, Ek Ek Paila Foundation established a Community Health Care Center in Thapathali with the aim to provide affordable and quality health services to cater to the urban poor in the city as well as in the periphery of Kathmandu valley with multi specialised doctors working voluntarily for the Health Center. This was established with the help of 68 founding members who contributed Rs.34 mn. The funds raised were utilised for the construction of the clinic, for the procurement of medical equipment, furniture and fixtures and for the operating expenses of the clinic.

We have allocated funds for the operating cost of the clinic for six months after which the clinic will generate its own income from various multi specialty services like Eye, ENT, General Medicine, Gynecology, Dental, Dermatology, Minor Operations, Radiology, Pediatrics, Orthopedics.

We have other revenue generating streams like Pharmacy, Opticals and Pathology and other services like Endoscopy, Colonoscopy and Bronchoscopy from which revenue will also be generated. These revenue streams will help to sustain the Community Center in the long term.

What are some of the gaps in donor funding? And what are some of the ways you are looking to expand the funding envelope?

Resource mobilisation is very crucial to achieve sustainability. For example, just after the Community Health Clinic was established, we had a lockdown in three days. However, Ek Ek Paila realizing the health crisis in the country decided to raise funds to distribute medicines to people affected by Covid 19 in rural parts of the country as it was a dire need. We got an overwhelming response from the campaign, we were able to raise Rs. 7.4 mn in one month, the total amount spent for the medicine and other administrative costs, transportation cost was Rs. 5.7 mn. The remaining amount of Rs. 1.5 mn was supported as a matching grant to Upper Dho Tarap for the construction of a lab for Hepatitis B.

How did our medicine distribution contribute to the economic health of that region:

  • Most people saved time as they had to walk for several hours or days and use a locally available vehicle to reach health services.
  • With an average per capita income of Rs. 8,671 per household (considering only the far west region), with medicine distribution worth Rs. 786.94, we contributed to 9% of their income which otherwise they would have compromised on their food or other essentials for the family.
  • The major source of income being daily wages, the caretaker of the household was able to generate income for that day or would have been travelling for hours visiting the medical health care services.
  • The users didn’t have to compromise on quality of the medicine (expired medicines on pharmacy shelves), the usage of medicines and the doses.
    Challenges & limitations:

Due to the limited resources of funds, we were able to contribute only 13.14% of the needs of the people in that area (considering only the far west region). Due to the demand for medicine from other areas, we had to send medicines to other districts as well, a total of 46 districts. Had the government been proactive along with the help of the NGO and INGOs, the economic benefit for the people in that region would have been much more.

Although the government is the main stakeholder in health in the area, other stakeholders such as the local community, health aid agencies and donors contribute significantly to improving access to medicines and health services. Thus, to improve the public perception about quality of medicines and the number of essential medicines and health services and promote appropriate use of medicines, we aim to have a joint approach involving all the stakeholders such as government, community, health aid agency and donors.

Regular source of financing is required for improving the public health system.  Ek Ek Paila will be able to contribute more if we have strong financial partners from the private sector. Ek Ek Paila with the help from government, communities and private sector partnership can contribute much more to the health system in the future.

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