Nepal | January 21, 2020

Mothers migrate for a living, infants at risk

Prakash Singh

BAJURA: Indigenous-migrating women in Nepal, along with their children, suffer a great deal in lack of family planning and proper ante-natal and post-natal care while migrating from Terai to Tibetan region amid seasonal migration.

Doma Gurung, 37, who lives in Budinanda Municipality-7, has given birth to 11 children while migrating, of whom only three survived. The rest died while descending to the plains, reason being extreme weather and other unavoidable circumstances. Gurung is currently living with her two-year-old, who was born on her way home from Achham to Bajura. All her babies didn’t live more than six months.

Many children are born while travelling from Terai to the Tibetan region and vice versa, and there is no means to stop unwanted pregnancy. Women in this region are deprived of basic health services due to poverty. Many mothers have to deal with unexpected pregnancies multiple times.

Similarly, Bisana Gurung, 52, resident of Budinanda Municipality-7, gave birth to 15 children while migrating. Only seven have survived.

Tani Thapa, who lives in the same village, gave birth to seven children, of whom only two survived, Others died due to improper care amidst cold weather. I am too weak myself to protect my baby, said Thapa.

Pak Thapa, 48, resident of Badimalika Municipality, gave birth to 14 children, 13 were born while migrating, of whom nine died while relocating. “Indigenous women give birth on roads with no time to rest or nourish babies and most of us are left to suffer, added Thapa.

“Because of harsh weather conditions and poverty, most women have given birth while migrating,” said Nrip Thapa, Chairman of the Federation of Bhote Ethnic Nationalities. Sadly, many children are born to die on the way, he said.

Residents of Bajura, Bajhang, Mugu, Humla, Jumla, and other remote areas move from one place to another during seasonal migration. Many indigenous women from these districts have been giving birth to children while they move.

Lachu Bogati, who lives in Pandusen, has been facing a similar problem. “We are always migrating from one place to another and with no access to primary healthcare services and family planning tools, where shall we deliver a baby,” questioned Bogati.

Women from various indigenous groups hardly go to health posts during pregnancy for parturition services and are less likely to be examined. Many suffer due to seasonal migration and geographical remoteness, said the District Health Office, Bajura.


(Translated by Madhavi Marasini)

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