Nepal | November 14, 2019

Cowshed, the only shelter for lactating mothers in Bajura

Prakash Singh

A woman with her newly born child sheltering in a cowshed, in Swami Kartik Khapar Rural Municipality of Bajura district, on Monday, May 13, 2019. Photo: Prakash Singh/THT

BAJURA: Lactating mothers are not directly allowed to go to their homes after they give birth to their babies in most of the villages of Bajura district. They are instead forced to stay in a cowshed.

Dharma Buda of Swami Kartik Rural Municipality in the district, who just gave birth to a baby 17 days ago, now has to stay in the shed for a month.

It has been reported that Buda has been staying in the shed with a small hole which is the only ventilation for the new baby, and surrounded by livestock like ox and chicken. Also, there is no electric power in the shed.

Similarly, the condition of Surindra Kathayat is no better. After giving birth to a baby boy at a health post, she was also compelled to stay in a shed.

Local social leader, Jandevi Buda shared that the practice of sheltering lactating mothers in the shed for the first month after giving birth was very common in Wai village in the district. “As many as five women in the village, who have recently given birth, have been sheltered at such sheds.”

Nandasar Sarki of Himali Rural Municipality-6, who gave birth to five babies at intervals and stayed in the shed for the first month of giving birth shared, “I lost two of my children due to the cold in the shed.”

It has been learnt that most of the lactating mothers of the north-eastern region of Bajura district are forced to stay in the shed for the first month after delivering babies.

Auxiliary Health Worker of Rugan Health Post, Dhan Bahadur Phadera said that the practice of giving birth in a shed and lactating women sheltering there were unexceptional also in Humla, Mugu, Jumla, Kalikot and Dolpa districts of Karnali Province. Phadera added that about 80 per cent of the lactating mothers live in such a manner.

As the risk factors are higher for both mother and child in the shed, the government has introduced allowance to encourage the mothers to give birth in heath institutions.

New mothers are granted an allowance of Rs 3,000 under the condition that they deliver their babies in a health institution; the allowance includes the amount of Rs 800 to Rs 3,800 for antenatal checkup and warm clothes in Karnali’s five districts as well as in Bajura’s health institution.

Chiranjeevi Shahi, Chairman of Swami Kartik Rural Municipality lamented, although the awareness about the risk factors of giving birth in the shed has been raised, the problem still persists.

It has been learnt that millions of rupees have been spent by various NGOs and INGOs to solve the problems of lactating mothers and pregnant women, but in vain.

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