Looking at health in Nepal


Nepalese Hindu women take a ritual bath in the Bagmati River during the Rishi Panchami festival in Kathmandu.


Prakash Mathema.

KATHMANDU, Nepal -- I’ve been living in India for close to two years, working as GlobalPost’s Mumbai correspondent and have been eagerly anticipating my first trip to our northern neighbor Nepal. I will spend a couple weeks traveling around Nepal, looking at how Obama’s Global Health Initiative is being implemented on the ground here.

India has become my main reference point, and I’ve been wondering how Nepal will compare. Will Kathmandu have the same energetic feel as Mumbai? Will the rickshaws (are there rickshaws?) be as noisy, the traffic as chaotic?

How does the status of Nepal’s women compare to that of India’s. How strong is gender discrimination, and does it impact Nepali women’s health as well? Are more girls malnourished and uneducated than boys? Are women unable to decide if they want to use contraception, or when they need to go to the hospital?

Nepal’s maternal mortality rate has dropped in recent years, and I want to know why. What has worked and what still needs to be done?

How did the decade-long civil war affect the country’s health system? What improvements have been made since? What is Nepal doing to get more medical professionals to work in rural areas?

I set off this week to seek answers to my many questions and flew from Mumbai to Kathmandu.

The changes have already been apparent; upon my arrival I had to jump through a series of hoops to exchange money in order to get my visa.

Finally, I have my passport, my visa and some local currency. I’m ready to begin my trip. Now I just need some momos. Follow my travels on this blog and on Twitter @Hanna_India.