The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Deputy Representative Dr Hashina Begum handed over oxygen cylinders worth Rs 11.9 million (equivalent to USD 100,000) to the Director of Management Division under the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), Dr Bhim Singh Tinkari on Monday.

This support from UNFPA to the Government of Nepal was made possible under the existing South-South and Triangular Cooperation Project agreement between Government of Nepal, Government of China, and UNFPA.

“We require oxygen supplies to respond to the current emergency as well as to prepare for a possible third wave. This support from the Government of China and UNFPA will help increase access to health facilities with functioning oxygen supplies,” said Dr Tinkari on the occasion.

“We appreciate our partnership with international development partners in our collective COVID-19 response efforts.”

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on vulnerable populations in Nepal including women of reproductive age who are facing greater barriers in accessing maternal health and family planning services, resulting in an increased number of home deliveries.

“While we are providing the critical support to the COVID-19 response efforts, we must ensure continuity of reproductive health services including consistent supply of contraceptives and essential reproductive health commodities to mitigate the impact of the unprecedented pandemic on women and girls,” said UNFPA Representative to Nepal Lubna Baqi.

UNFPA is working with federal, provincial, and local governments and partners to ensure that special and unique needs of women and girls of reproductive age are addressed.

“Thanks to the Government of China for their timely support under the maternal health programme in providing the oxygen cylinders to save lives at this critical time,” Baqi noted.

UNFPA will continue to support the government’s COVID-19 response plans together with other UN agencies and development partners to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on progress towards the three transformative results — ending preventable maternal deaths, ending unmet need for family planning, and ending Gender Based Violence and harmful practices, UNFPA said in a press statement.

Earlier, also with funding from Government of China, UNFPA delivered over 7,000 PPE kits to MoHP to support the Government of Nepal’s effort to prevent transmission and respond to the pandemic while ensuring continuity of life-saving SRH and GBV services for women and girls.

In addition, through the hospital-based One Stop Crisis Management Centers and safe houses UNFPA delivered over 340,000 sanitary pads, supported by China, to young women and girls across the country as part of COVID-19 and monsoon emergency responses.