The road to health

The road to health

The role of transport in facilitating access to health services in rural Nepal

This article, published in Forum News, looks at issues relating to the accessibility of health and reproductive services in rural Nepal and the effects of road construction in improving access these services. It finds that the provision of roads has led to an overall increase in the use of regional facilities; however this trend has varied markedly between communities. The use of motorised transport to access services differs by ethnicity, caste, economic status and gender. In hill regions, cash-poor subsistence farmers and women are least able to afford transport services. While road provision potentially improves accessibility for mobile community health workers, they are often reluctant to make off-road journeys on foot to reach hill and mountain communities.

The paper concludes that transport is a single component in the complexity of issues surrounding the accessibility of health and reproductive services in rural Nepal. Efforts are called for to increase gender, cultural and social sensitivity among existing health service providers, to more effectively meet the needs of all members of society. Disadvantaged groups, and women in particular, need to be encouraged into active roles within the health professions. In so doing, greater equity in access to health care and wider inclusion in the development process might be more effectively achieved.

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