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Alumni supporting their communities in Nepal using COVID-19 response grant

Posted: 14 July 2020

Nepal, Alumni, COVID-19, Impact,

During the ongoing global pandemic, any support—small or large—can have a significant impact. Australia Awards alumni Dr Krishna Paudel and Rakesh Yadav have both demonstrated this through the use of the Alumni COVID-19 Response Grants they each received from Australia Awards – Nepal. The alumni used the grant funds to arrange logistics and purchase equipment to help their respective local communities cope with hardships caused by the pandemic.

Dr Paudel, who is Director at Kanti Children’s Hospital in Nepal, purchased forty sets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for his hospital staff. He also utilised the grant funds to provide hospital staff with training on infection prevention.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in Nepal, PPE is in high demand in hospitals. As the central Government-owned paediatric hospital, Kanti Children’s Hospital receives more than 600 visitors daily even during lockdown and therefore requires strong preventive measures to protect both visitors and hospital staff from the spread of the virus.

“In this time of crisis, every single means of support has a great impact,” says Dr Paudel. “The hospital highly values the support received from Australia Awards.”

Alumnus Dr Krishna Paudel at a recent COVID-19 press briefing. Sign in the background says “Government of Nepal, Ministry of Health and Population, Ramshah Path Kathmandu, COVID-19 Press Briefing, Live Broadcasting”

Dr Paudel completed his Master of Public Health through an Australia Awards Scholarship at the University of Melbourne in 2019. Upon his return to Nepal, Dr Paudel was appointed to his current role as Director. In this capacity, he has been working to scale up his hospital’s response to the pandemic. “In addition to the Government’s support, we are exploring resources from our well-wishers,” he says, adding that such supporters offer “solidarity towards our efforts in a battle against the pandemic”.

Separately, alumnus Rakesh Yadav utilised his grant to support the underprivileged Mushahar community in the Karjanha Municipality of the Siraha District in south-east Nepal. He used the funds to provide materials and orientations to build awareness on hygiene and sanitation in order to help the community cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 139 households received sanitation materials such as a bucket with a tap, soaps, soap dishes and face masks. More than 600 people participated in the hygiene awareness orientation. Because the pandemic has affected access to contraceptive devices, Rakesh also provided counselling to 14 individuals on how to avoid unwanted pregnancies during the lockdown.

While implementing his grant project, Rakesh was also able to collaborate with the local Municipality office, a health post and SABAL Nepal, a local non-government organisation. To further help with Rakesh’s efforts, the Municipality allocated an additional NPR500,000 (approximately AUD6,500) to provide hygiene and sanitation support to local underprivileged households.

Alumnus Rakesh Yadav utilised his grant to support the underprivileged Mushahar community in the Karjanha Municipality of the Siraha District in south-east Nepal

Rakesh completed a Master of Public Health from the University of New South Wales in 2014, with the support of an Australia Awards Scholarship. He has been working in the health sector since he returned to Nepal and currently works with Nepal Public Health Research & Development Centre as Research Consultant.

Speaking about his grant experience, Rakesh says, “I feel delighted to be able to support people through an Alumni COVID-19 Response Grant. Such grants motivate alumni like me to materialise our innovative ideas into practice.”

Australia Awards alumni are recognised as innovators, leaders and influencers in their fields. Australia Awards – Nepal administers alumni engagement activities such as the Alumni COVID-19 Response Grant in order to recognise alumni’s contributions, support their efforts and celebrate their achievements.

Image at top of page: Local health professionals demonstrating hand washing practices to the Mushahar community during a hygiene awareness orientation that alumnus Rakesh Yadav provided through his Alumni COVID-19 Response Grant.