Fighting maternal and infant mortality

Fight maternal and infant mortality in Nepal by Integrating reproductive healthcare and micro finance

When we ask the traditional village midwife whether women have died recently in their district while giving birth to their child, her face darkens and she murmurs:

Four months ago…
They called me early in the morning. Sujata had given birth at home to her fourth child. Her stepmother had come to fetch me. I immediately knew something was wrong and sent out an urgent call for a health worker.
When I arrived at Sujata’s, the ground was covered with blood. She was still alive but couldn’t stand nor even sit. I did what I could to convince the family that she should be transported immediately to hospital. It's hard, you know…
She needs to be carried as far as the road on a doko and then call an ambulance. It costs Rs 1500. Sujata's family is poor. They talked for a while. Then her husband took the final decision and said to me: "She has chosen to die”.

Location of Project Nepal, Sindhupalchowk District
Name of Association

Médecins du Monde
Project Partners
(financial and operational)
  • Community Development and Environment Conservation Forum
  • Center for Micro Finance
  • District Health Office
  • Planet Finance

Program description

Sindhupalchowk District is divided into 80 Village Development Committees with a total population of 352,515. This mountainous region raises a multitude challenges: a difficult geography, social networks weakened by 10 years of conflict, a limited road infrastructure, a population of many disadvantaged ethnic groups and insufficient healthcare.

Indicators for maternal and reproductive health in Sindupalchowk are below the national average:

  • 5.08% of deliveries take place in a health facility (against 20% nationwide)
  • Only 12% of home deliveries are aided by health workers.

The overall goal of the program is to help reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in an integrated way. Since 2007, Médecins du Monde has been developing an innovative strategy that combines reproductive health services and microfinance. This involves to mobilizing women around issues of reproductive health and financial autonomy and improving the supply of healthcare in terms of affordability and availability.

Médecins du Monde then worked with its local partner CDECFA to build a microfinance network composed entirely of women of childbearing age. This web of groups, each comprising about twenty women, acts as a support for preventive hygiene and healthcare education, and also participates in increasing the financial empowerment of women. These groups will then form cooperatives by the end of the project.

Médecins du Monde also works to support and strengthen the capabilities of health facilities in terms of equipment, training or making resources available.