Building WASH facilities to fight COVID-19

Ram Kumar Thapa, in-charge of Samundratar health post in Dupcheswor of Nuwakot district, is one of the many health workers who has received support in bringing behavior change amongst the people after the health post was turned to the isolation centre to protect COVID-19 infected people in the community. The initiative led by Purnima, a UK aid funded project, managed by Mott MacDonald, pivoted its ongoing post-earthquake recovery to pandemic relief to support the communities in fighting COVID-19.

Samundratar health post, which has been turned into isolation centre in recommendation from Palika is centrally located where numerous COVID-19 infected people visit. However, without proper safety equipment, the health post itself was at increased risk. “Doctors and attendants did not have a separate basin for hand-washing,” expressed Ram Kumar. The situation of the health post was very poor, risking lives of health workers and other people who visited the post for regular check-ups. “We tried to bring these changes related to WASH earlier in coordination with rural municipality, however, it did not materialize,” said Ram Kumar.

Realizing the need for separate hand washing areas for the health workers and patients, a contactless and peddle operated handwashing stations were established by CARE Nepal in partnership with CDC Nepal through Purnima programme. The handwashing stations have proper supply of water and hand washing liquids. Separate toilets and bathroom for men and women were also designated.

The health post received 50 people a day in average and having contactless handwashing stations has created a helpful environment in protecting the people from the transmission. “We understood the need for an isolation centre and at the same time also the necessities required for an isolation centre to operate and now our dream of having a well-protected centre is in operation,” happily shared Ram Kumar.

With the new Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) structures including semi-permanent toilet, handwashing stations and pipeline extensions to toilet have supported in behavior change amongst the health practitioners and service seekers. However, it was only possible due to the dedication, efforts, and hard work put forth by the rural municipality, the officials of the project, the health workers, and the management committee with support from the community people.

Through the programme intervention, we have been supporting 81 quarantine centres and isolation centers over four districts; 46 in Gorkha, 19 in Nuwakot, 11 in Dhading and 5 in Rasuwa. In addition to this, we have also supported 97 health facilities in Gorkha, Nuwakot and Rasuwa with handwashing stations.