There is a certain stigma around being a woman in Nepal. Natural bodily functions, such as menstruation, are seen as taboo. There are familial customs where certain tasks are expected of the women and men, many of which require heavy exertion on the women. These tasks are expected to be completed by the woman whether she is pregnant or not, which has a toll on her health as an expecting mother. Many women do not go and see clinicians, but when they do, they must walk for hours in rough terrain, risking their lives. Some clinics pay the women money to go to the clinics and get check ups, but many have no idea why they have to go, and only go for the money. Though few women attend visits at the clinic, maternal mortality is still very high. In 1995, per every 100,000 births, there were 660 maternal deaths. This number has shrunk to be 444 in 2005 and 258 in 2015. While the amount continues to shrink, it is still a prevalent problem. The visible shrinking in maternal deaths is due to the overt campaigning for women to go to the clinics for the safest births. The main cause of maternal death is hemorrhaging, which is when a blood vessel ruptures and the mother can bleed out. Hemorrhaging can be fixed my medical professional with surgical experience, but women who experience hemorrhaging during at-home births without medical professionals have little to no chance of survival, especially in areas like Nepal that are far from hospitals.
Nepal’s cultural customs, such as multiple or many births in a family, or early marriages and pregnancy also can lead to strain on the body, causing it to have more problems during pregnancy. Women in Nepal are expected to complete all the household tasks while the man works and relaxes when he is home. Physical labor such as carrying heavy objects during household chores puts extra strain on the body that should not be done, especially during late stages of pregnancies. I think that this is a major public health problem in Nepal because it calls for a major change in culture.
In an idea world this major change of culture would allow women to relax in their pregnancy and be able to have easy access to medical clinics. It also would call on the men to help with household chores rather than relaxing when they are home. Finally, it would also call upon the entire society and culture to evaluate its stigma surrounding the female body. During menstruation, Nepalese women must separate themselves from everyone else and not enter any home for fear of cursing the home and the people in it. This custom is prevalent all around Nepal – not just the rural areas. In order for the country to actually take hold of this extreme public health issue, they will need to learn about the female body and place more emphasis on its importance, rather than forcing all women to work, give birth, and do everything for men.
“Maternal Mortality Ratio (modeled Estimate, per 100,000 Live Births).” Data. World Bank Group, n.d. Web. 28 July 2016.
Shrestha, Roman. “Maternal Mortality in Nepal: Addressing the Issue.” RSS. Inquiries Journal, 2012. Web. 28 July 2016.
“Statistics.” UNICEF. UNICEF, n.d. Web. 28 July 2016.
WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and World Bank Group. “Maternal Mortality in 1990-2015.” Nepal (2015): n. pag. World Health Organization. Web. 28 July 2016.