Though the bloody Maoist insurgency has been blamed for taking nearly 15,000 lives, the hard fact of 30,000 neonatal deaths, coupled with 5,000 to 6,000 maternity ones, that occur in Nepal every year has escaped the attention of policy-makers. The average annual neonatal and maternal mortality rate is over 20 times bigger than that of the insurgency-related deaths. Worse still, the World Disasters Report 2006 says that, despite huge foreign aid, the year 2005 witnessed wide disparity in humanitarian aid distribution. Owing to deep-rooted corruption and bureaucratic hurdles, the aid, in most cases, has failed to reach the target groups. And even when it does, either the timing is wrong or the amount has already shrunk considerably.
Abject poverty, lack of education, and discrimination against women are at the root of their present neglect. Healthcare facilities as such leave much to be desired and the scenario becomes far from encouraging when it comes to emergency obstetric care, especially for those living in the rural and far-flung areas. Hence, unsafe childbirth practices adopted by unprofessional birth attendants, that too at home in over 90 per cent of the delivery cases, constitute one of the major causes of high mortality rate, apart from factors such as the lack of reproductive rights, early motherhood, malnutrition, among others. To improve the scenario, free medical care, at least, for pregnant women is a prerequisite. Many lives could be saved with prompt and efficient care during pregnancy, childbirth, and neonatal phase.