Women with disabilities’ right to maternal healthcare is the same as that of women without disabilities. However, in low-income countries such as Nepal, their access and quality of healthcare are often limited, despite national and international guidelines. Additionally, the multiple discrimination they face from their disability and their gender impact their experiences, which increases their risk of neglect, non-consensual care, and obstetric violence. This research project aims to identify barriers to access and quality of maternal healthcare for disabled women in Kathmandu. Identifying these barriers reveals gaps in policy implementation and available healthcare services. This allows policy recommendations and interventions to be made to improve maternal healthcare access and quality for these women.
Hard to Reach
Women with disabilities living in Nepal.
While this research is specific to Kathmandu, it paves the way for recommendations and national policy implementations, as well as future research within the field of disabilities. These recommendations include:
- An initial interactive workshop could help establish communication between the various participant groups to create and drive meaningful change. Such a workshop would allow the women to share their own or second-hand experiences and healthcare needs. Women from various socioeconomic backgrounds and disabilities should be included to account for varied perspectives. Other participants would include healthcare providers and policymakers in a position of influence who could easily disseminate the information to their networks.
- To address the lack of sufficient disability-friendly infrastructure and finances, there should be an awareness campaign targeted toward policymakers to ensure they understand the disabled community’s needs and the government should foster stronger partnerships with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and development banks to leverage funds and carry out disability-oriented projects.
- Developing specialized training programs for healthcare providers that could be integrated into current training programs and encompass a wide range of topics such as tailored medical care, healthcare management techniques, and respectful and effective communication that considers the unique needs of these women.
We express our sincere gratitude to our mentors Dr. Kate Roll and Dr. Sara Hillman for their consistent support throughout this project. Their encouragement and advice in the design and execution of the research was crucial. We also thank Dr. Hridaya Devkota for his instrumental role in leading the recruitment process, the field research, and for being a source of support. A big thank you to Sapana Panta and Suyasha Adhikari for conducting the field research and for their contributions about culture in Nepal.
We are grateful to Naomi Saville and Maria Kett for their feedback and advice. We are also thankful for Laura Lemos who was an early contributor and inspired us to think critically about our research. Additionally, we thank Nicole Jolly for her guidance throughout this project. Finally, we thank all participants who agreed to take part in this study. We hope to amplify your voices with this report.
Note on language: Throughout this report, we use the words mothers and women to describe the participant groups because this is the standard language used in Nepal. We acknowledge that there may be individuals who do not align with the gender binary, and the experiences reflected in this research may be generalizable to them. Furthermore, any disability-related language in this paper is in line with Nepal’s official disability categorization outlined in its legislation called The Act Relating to Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2074).