4th March 2018, Kathmandu- The Family Health Division under Department of Health Services, Ministry of Health organized an event at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku today to mark the 4th World Birth Defects Day. The event was supported by Karuna Foundation Nepal and WHO Nepal.
The objective of the program was to mark the fourth edition of world birth defects day through reflection of current situation of birth defects and national and regional initiatives for addressing the issue. Furthermore, the idea was to consolidate the efforts from partners, stakeholders and bring the synergies to scale up the current activities in the future. The World Birth Defects Day is celebrated every year on 3rd March.
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During the program, Family Health Division and other organizations working in the area of prevention of avoidable birth defects and management of birth defects presented their works. Sharad Sharma, the focal person for program on birth defects prevention and management at Family Health Division shared about the Government of Nepal’s five-year long Birth Defects Surveillance, Prevention and Control Plan that runs from 2015 to 2019. He highlighted the Strategic direction as Nationalization, institutionalization and scaling of Birth Defects interventions and Implement Micronutrition Supplementation. In addition, he shared the initiations of Government that included folic acid supplementation for newly married couples in Ilam and Dang, rubella vaccination, birth defects prevention messages on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) programs, Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance Program and birth defects surveillance in 16 of the major hospitals in Nepal.
Dr. Meera Thapa Upadhyay from WHO Nepal shared the global scenario of birth defects and initiatives taken for the management of the same. Surendra Bajracharya from Autism Care Nepal Society Nepal briefly introduced Autism as neurodevelopmental congenital anomaly. He further discussed on the etiology, diagnosis and treatment modalities of autism care followed by information on the brief available services and challenges. Dr. Lalita Joshi from Downs Syndrome Association of Nepal highlighted problems faced by children born with Down Syndrome in Nepal. She presented focusing on Iodine supplementation, hygiene care and vaccination to all. High need of data on Down Syndrome to further design programs and management was focused. Guni Malla from Cerebral Palsy Self Help Group Nepal highlighted the program run by the centre in Dhapakhel that included special education program, home visits to provide physiotherapy service, parental psychological counselling training, and residential program for children and parents. Likewise, Rupa Shiwakoti from Karuna Foundation Nepal shared about the organization’s efforts to prevent disabilities and community-based rehabilitation of children and adults with disability including those with birth defects. The program entitled Inspire2Care is based on improving access to and utilization of maternal and child health and nutrition services. The management part is based on WHO Community Based Rehabilitation matrix. She discussed the use of mobile technology and best wishes program as the pre-conception intervention for prevention of birth defects. Furthermore, the evidence on preconception interventions and evidence-based intervention are the way forward to address the birth defects, she added.
Remarks from Directors included the remarks from Child Health Division, National Health Education Information and Communication Centre and chief guest, Chudamani Bhandari (Deputy Director General for Department of Health Services) who highlighted the need of interdivisional collaboration in mitigating the issue. The program was adjourned by the Director of Family Health Division, Dr. Bikash Devkota.