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The Health Thread

Health Disparities and initiaves to promote health equity

Health disparities, defined as preventable differences in health outcomes between different population groups, continue to persist in Nepal. These disparities are influenced by various social, economic, and environmental factors, resulting in unequal access to healthcare and poorer health outcomes for certain populations. This article explores health disparities in Nepal and highlights the initiatives implemented to promote health equity, backed by research findings and references.

Health Disparities in Nepal:

Nepal faces significant health disparities across different population groups, including rural versus urban areas, ethnic minorities, and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals. These disparities manifest in various health indicators such as infant mortality, maternal mortality, prevalence of communicable diseases, and access to healthcare services.

Research conducted by Paudel et al. (2019) examined health disparities among ethnic groups in Nepal. The study found that certain ethnic minorities, such as Dalits and Janajatis, experienced higher rates of maternal and child mortality compared to the majority population (1). This research highlights the importance of addressing health disparities among different ethnic groups to achieve health equity.

Initiatives to Promote Health Equity:

Recognizing the need to address health disparities and promote health equity, several initiatives have been implemented in Nepal. These initiatives aim to improve access to healthcare services, enhance health literacy, and reduce barriers to healthcare for disadvantaged populations.

Community-based Health Programs: Community-based health programs, such as the Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV) program, have played a crucial role in improving healthcare access in rural and remote areas. FCHVs, trained female volunteers from local communities, provide basic healthcare services, health education, and referrals to formal healthcare facilities.

A study conducted by Shrestha et al. (2018) evaluated the impact of the FCHV program on maternal and child health outcomes in Nepal. The research showed that the FCHV program contributed to a significant reduction in maternal and neonatal mortality rates, highlighting the effectiveness of community-based initiatives in promoting health equity (2).

Health Insurance Schemes: Health insurance schemes, such as the Social Health Insurance (SHI) program, have been implemented to improve financial access to healthcare services. These schemes aim to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and provide financial protection, particularly for vulnerable and low-income populations.

A research study by Bhattarai et al. (2019) assessed the impact of the SHI program on healthcare utilization and financial protection in Nepal. The findings demonstrated that the program increased healthcare utilization among insured individuals and reduced the financial burden associated with healthcare expenses (3). Health insurance schemes play a crucial role in promoting equity by ensuring that healthcare services are accessible and affordable for all.

Equity-Oriented Policies and Strategies: The government of Nepal has implemented equity-oriented policies and strategies to address health disparities. These policies focus on improving healthcare infrastructure, increasing healthcare workforce in underserved areas, and reducing healthcare costs for vulnerable populations.

A study by Rai et al. (2021) evaluated the effectiveness of equity-oriented policies in reducing health disparities in Nepal. The research highlighted positive outcomes, such as improved healthcare access and reduced disparities in healthcare utilization between different population groups (4). This research emphasizes the importance of comprehensive policy interventions in promoting health equity.

Health disparities continue to pose significant challenges in Nepal, affecting the health outcomes of various population groups. However, through targeted initiatives and evidence-based interventions, progress is being made to promote health equity. Community-based health programs, health insurance schemes, and equity-oriented policies have shown promising results in improving healthcare access and reducing disparities.

Continued efforts to strengthen these initiatives, along with increased investment in healthcare infrastructure, education, and research, are crucial for achieving health equity in Nepal. By addressing social determinants of health, such as poverty, education, and housing, Nepal can create a more equitable and healthier society for all its citizens.


  • Paudel, R., Khanal, V., Ghimire, A., & Mishra, S. R. (2019). Ethnic disparities in maternal and child health outcomes and services in Nepal: A systematic review of the literature. Kathmandu University medical journal, 17(65), 261-268.
  • Shrestha, A., Karki, S., & Poudyal, A. (2018). Impact of Female Community Health Volunteer Program on Maternal and Child Health in Nepal. Journal of Nepal Medical Association, 56(208), 776-783.
  • Bhattarai, S., Dhungana, S., Baral, D., & Yadav, B. K. (2019). Impact of Social Health Insurance Program on Healthcare Utilization and Financial Protection in Nepal: A Cross-Sectional Study. PloS one, 14(6), e0218586.
  • Rai, D., Neupane, D., & Rasaily, R. (2021). Reduction of health disparities in Nepal: what works? WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health, 10(1), 23-26.