In a victory for women’s empowerment and community health workers, the health authorities of Nepal’s second most populous province, the Bagmati Province, granted a special financial reward of 5,000 Nepalese Rupees (NRP) for every female Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) on Female Community Health Workers Day (FCHW), December 5, 2023. This special award builds upon the Bagmati government’s recent commitment to covering half of the contributory Family Health Insurance Scheme for FCHVs.
Celebrating this win, Sister Basanti Maharjan, President of UNI affiliate, Union of Community Health Workers of Nepal (HEVON), representing over 10,000 female CHVs in Nepal, emphasized that the fight for full rights continues:
“With the support of UNI Care, we will remain focused on our campaign for full employment with full pay and social security coverage for FCHVs, ensuring they receive the same benefits and recognition as their counterparts in government health services.”
UNI Asia & Pacific Regional Secretary Rajendra Acharya commended the achievement, and said, “This groundbreaking move is setting a commendable example for other provinces to follow. It will also strengthen HEVON’s mission to secure full employment rights and social security for FCHVs nationwide, ensuring these dedicated health heroes receive the recognition and support they deserve.”
Alan Sable, Head of UNI Care, said, “Nepal’s healthcare system owes a debt of gratitude to these unseen heroes. It’s time to acknowledge their dedication, address the challenges they face, and ensure their vital services are valued and celebrated not just with words on one day, but with fair compensation and adequate support every day.”
Nepal’s healthcare system relies heavily on over fifty-one thousand FCHVs working without regular pay in long-term volunteer schemes. These dedicated community health workers provide essential health education and counselling on topics such as safe motherhood, family planning, and nutrition. They also play a vital role in community outreach activities and emergency response during natural disasters or pandemics.
Despite their immense contribution, they face numerous challenges as they serve their communities. The most glaring disparity lies in the gap between the critical nature of their work and the lack of recognition reflected in their remuneration.