The HKC Health Fund
When the new team took over Happy Kids Center in April, 2016 we were faced almost immediately with the realities of the healthcare crisis that exists in Nepal.
At Happy Kids Center the children are dirty, many are malnourished, and constantly have snot hanging from their noses, but they are tough. While many Western children live in a bubble, protected from germs and vaccinated against every risk, these children have powerful immune systems that have faced next to everything, and this carries them through adulthood. People here are tough, but they are not invincible.
The reality of Nepal’s broken healthcare system was thrust upon us when a parent of three of our children became extremely ill. This woman, we will call her Mansi, couldn’t have been more than 30 years old. She had lost her husband some years prior and was raising 4 children alone in Nepal, far from her home and family in India.
By the time she was brought to the hospital it was already too late. She was so thin, she had almost wasted away completely. The first diagnosis was pneumonia.
Mansi had known she was sick, but going to the hospital was not an option; she could not afford it and she would have to leave her children home alone. She fought until she couldn’t fight anymore, and finally she was admitted to a public hospital. It was at this time her children asked us to come along to visit her.
This hospital was not like any hospital we had seen before. It was cold and unsanitary. The lobbies were packed with people and the whole place was terribly understaffed. We asked time and again for blankets that never came, and learned quickly that nothing is provided by the hospital. Families are responsible for bringing in food and caring for their loved ones, bathing them and even turning them in their beds. Her only caretakers were her young children.
It was at this time that Happy Kids Center stepped in. We paid for her medication and did our best to provide her with the basic necessities, but by this time it was already too late.
A short time later Mansi died in the hospital, leaving her four children orphaned.
We learned only after one of our volunteers who had visited the hospital contracted Tuberculosis, that this was likely her true cause of death.
TB is an epidemic in Nepal, whereas in the Western world it has been almost eradicated and considered 100% curable with the exception of cases where the patient has another serious illness such as HIV. TB is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that most often affects the lungs. It begins with a cough, fever and weight loss, presenting very similarly to pneumonia. Testing for TB is simple and inexpensive, but Mansi never even received this test.
After this tragic loss, we vowed to be a resource for people from our community, so that they can seek help when they are in need; so that no other child or parent needs to die of a curable disease because they cannot afford treatment.
- Children in our community do not have access to basic healthcare
- Most children have never had a “checkup” with a General Practitioner
- Several of our children have severe visual impairments that went completely undiagnosed because they never had their eyes checked.
- When children or adults fall ill hospitals often feel out of reach due to the high cost of care.
- Preventative care is essential to catching debilitating illnesses that could impair person’s ability to live a normal life
- The HKC Health Programs and Health Funds are open to all children who regularly attend Happy Kids Center
- The HKC Health Program is also open to parents of Happy Kids on a needs basis
- 55 Children are now registered with Siddhi Memorial Women and Children’s Hospital where their medical history is monitored
- At HKC we approximately 20% of our children suffer from problems associated with malnutrition
- Care is provided by a team of senior pediatric specialists from Siddhi Memorial Women and Children’s Hospital and CHEERS.
- We facilitate regular health screenings in the form of Health Camps in partnership with Siddhi Memorial Women and Children’s Hospital and CHEERS.
- When health problems arise, children, are brought to see a General Practitioner at Siddhi Memorial Hospital where all of their medical histories is kept on record.
- Costs of medical appointments, surgeries, and medication will be covered by HKC’s Health Fund and we all children registered with HKC receive considerable discounts thanks to our aforementioned partnerships.
- The best way to prevent health problems is education on hygiene practices and at home treatment for common illnesses
*These statistics are based on data collected in 2017.
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