November 25 2013

Addressing Nepal’s Silent Tragedy

presentationDid you know?  A silent tragedy has been unfolding in Nepal, where more than one in ten women suffer from pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Untreated, this condition can lead to serious health complications in mothers, and thus impact the whole community. With this in mind, Karuna-Shechen partnered with the non-governmental organization One Heart Worldwide to launch, in 2013, a new program in the remote districts of Baglung and Dolpo to raise awareness about POP.

POP occurs when the pelvic muscles and connective tissues weaken. The uterus can then collapse, sometimes causing the descent of other organs. Repeated pregnancies, followed by deliveries without medical assistance and hard work in the fields without post-partum rest, significantly contribute to the prevalence of POP among rural women in Nepal. According to a study by the United Nations Population Fund, among those affected, 82% find it difficult to sit, 79% to walk and 89% to lift heavy loads.

In most cases, POP can be prevented. But, because of shame and ignorance, most Nepalese mothers suffer in silence. “Nepal is a very patriarchal society, explains Surya Bhatta, Project Coordinator. Talking about woman’s personal health is still taboo.  This is why we decided to train female Community Health Volunteers from the villages, rather than outsiders. It is easier for women to talk to someone from their community. ”

In each village, a medical volunteer has been selected and trained in basic screening and various preventive techniques, such as pelvic floor muscle training. When a case is detected, the volunteer refers the patient to the appropriate local medical staff for complete screening and, if required, adequate treatment. In most cases, this prevents a partial or full collapse of the uterus and, therefore, the use of surgery.

Thanks to our donors’ support, we are able to improve the lives of thousands of Nepalese women and prevent further tragedies. The Nepalese government has included our prevention and awareness program in its national health education curriculum.

Read More about our POP project in Nepal