Respectful Maternity Care
Sexual/Reproductive Health & Rights
Maternal & Newborn Health Self-Care
History & Mission
The Safe Motherhood Network Federation Nepal (SMNF), the national affiliate of WRA Nepal, has been a leader in reproductive, maternal and newborn health and rights for decades. WRA Nepal was at the forefront of implementing awareness and advocacy activities when safe motherhood was a non-issue in Nepal, and were instrumental in ensuring that maternal health and reproductive rights were included in Nepal’s Constitution.
In Nepal, women in childbirth routinely experience disrespect and abuse in health facilities. The problem is pervasive and does not spare anyone, no matter the social, geographical or economic background. This is not only a human rights violation, but it discourages pregnant women from seeking the healthcare that could save their lives.
Parliamentarians must include the Respectful Maternity Care Charter in the Safe Motherhood and Newborn Healthcare bill and guarantee every woman in Nepal a safe and respectful childbirth experience.
During childbirth, women in Nepal have reported being pinched, pushed and hit by health staff, and routinely face rudeness and lack of information in health facilities. This disrespect and abuse can cause women to refuse to go back to the facility, either staying at home to give birth, or going further afield – and telling their friends not to go there either. Because of this pervasive ill treatment, only 19% of births in Nepal are attended by skilled birth personnel – putting countless lives at risk from emergency birth complications. White Ribbon Alliance Nepal is using its extensive national network to mobilize women and communities to demand their rights to respectful care while pressing the government to provide and fund Respectful Maternity Care trainings.
Since its inception, SMNF has promoted a rights-based approach for maternal and newborn health. Dr. Arzu Rana Debua founded SMNF in 1996 and shortly thereafter brought together maternal and newborn health advocates from across the country to form WRA Nepal. As the movement grew, so did its influence. In the past two decades, Nepal has reduced the maternal mortality ratio by 76%, under-five mortality by 73%, infant mortality by 67% and neonatal morality mortality by 42% – but there is still more work to be done. By providing information on safe abortion services to communities, training health providers on the importance of Respectful Maternity Care, and building and equipping birthing centers, SMNF is making sure that safe motherhood is the right of all women in Nepal.
WRA Nepal News
WRA Nepal hosted the WRA Global Alliance meeting, which coincided with International Self-Care Day. Nepal’s Prime Minister and Secretary of the Ministry of Health both attended the opening ceremony, and commended WRA Nepal for its vision and leadership around maternal and newborn health and rights.
WRA Nepal hosted WRA representatives from around the world for its July 2017 global meeting.
WRA Nepal Youth Ambassador, Jemie Shrestha, gives testimony while seated next to her country’s health minister during the 3rd Annual Global Citizens’ Dialogue in Geneva. Jemie has worked with youth in rural areas to learn about challenges in receiving health information and services.
WRA delegates to the 2017 World Health Assembly in Geneva included WRA Nepal National Coordinator Sunil Shrestha (far left) and Youth Ambassador Jemie Shrestha (second from left, not related).
Thank you to our partners
USAID – Health Policy Project
The Government of Nepal
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Sunil Shrestha serves as National Coordinator for WRA Nepal and Treasurer Safe Motherhood Network Nepal (SMNF), and is involved in all activities and projects implemented by SMNF, which he joined in 2005 after spending 20 years in the health care sector. Sunil represents SMNF as an Executive Board Member of the Civil Society Alliance for Nutrition Nepal, a movement for scaling up nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in health care management and is a very motivated social service volunteer and active member of Lions Club Kathmandu.
When not advocating for safe motherhood or volunteering in the community, Sunil manages a medical equipment business.
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