Nepal on the brink

When Adish and Sonu lie in bed at night, they can hear the wailing of the ambulances returning to the private hospital near their house. It seems there’s a never-ending stream of patients needing care, 24 hours a day.

As Nepali pastors they are careful when they visit the sick, and they only go to the market to buy vegetables twice a week. Pre-Covid this was an everyday ritual to get the freshest vegetables. They are scared to leave their home, and when I talked with them last night, they sounded dejected.

The virus’s rapid spread has raised fears that Nepal is on the brink of a crisis just as devastating as India’s — if not worse, because Nepal has a fragile health system, with fewer doctors per capita than India, and a lower vaccination rate than its neighbour.

The fact that at the moment 44% of all Covid tests in Nepal turn out to be positive, suggests not nearly enough people are being tested.

Pastor Adish tells me he has just lost his good friend Pastor Tulsi. They had studied together and then were on outreach together down south. Tulsi leaves behind his wife, daughter, son and congregation. Last week he was well, but during the week he developed a sore throat and was admitted to hospital. Two days’ later he was dead.

Many people in their church are sick and need care but cannot afford to go to the Government hospital, let alone the private hospital. A night in a government hospital costs $250; in a private hospital it is $575. The private hospitals still have oxygen, but when you go to the government hospital, you need a family member to go to the black market where a small oxygen bottle costs $125. On top of that come bills for the doctor, nurses and medication. A labourer receives $7/day, a teacher $300/month.

Last year’s Covid was scary, but that is nothing compared to this latest spike. The Government newspaper says that the current lockdown might be for four months.

Your help is needed to pay for hospital bills, for masks, but also for food as people are without work — even government jobs that seemed secure are not so anymore, because there is not enough money to pay wages.

— A senior mission worker

To donate: Go here and quote project Covid Relief NP 98581. 

(names have been changed)