The United Nations Population Fund has continued to provide humanitarian support in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic. It has provided 800 units of oxygen cylinders and other health equipment worth Rs 11.9 million to the government.

The UNFPA's support to the Government of Nepal was made possible under the existing South-South and Triangular Cooperation Project agreement between the Nepal government, Government of China, and the UNFPA.

The nation had experienced a critical shortage of oxygen during the second wave of the pandemic and this had put an enormous strain on health facilities across the country.

"We require oxygen supply to respond to the current emergency as well as to prepare for a possible third wave.

This support from the Government of China and the UNFPA will help increase access to health facilities with functioning oxygen supplies," said Bhim Singh Tinkari, director of Management Division under the Ministry of Health and Population.

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on vulnerable populations, including women of reproductive age, who are facing greater barriers in accessing maternal health and family planning services, thereby resulting in increased number of home deliveries.

"While we are providing critical support to the COV- ID-19 response team, we must ensure the continuity of reproductive health services, including consistent supply of contraceptives and essential reproductive health commodities to mitigate the impact of the unprecedented pandemic on women and girls," said UNFPA Representative to Nepal Lubna Baqi.

UNFPA has been working with the federal, provincial, and local governments to ensure that special and unique needs of women and girls of reproductive age are addressed.

"Thanks to the Government of China for their timely support under the maternal health programme in providing oxygen cylinders to save lives at this critical time," Baqi noted.

Earlier, also with funding from the Government of China, UNFPA delivered over 7,000 PPE kits to the MoHP. In addition, through the hospital-based One Stop Crisis Management Centres and safe houses, UNFPA delivered over 340,000 sanitary pads supported by China to young women and girls as part of the COVID and monsoon emergency responses.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 3 2021, of The Himalayan Times.