The State of the World Population Report 2003 (UNFPA) estimates that Nepal’s maternal mortality rate (MMR) has doubled in the past seven years and stands at 905 per 100,000. After Afghanistan, which has a mortality rate of 1,276 per 100,000, Nepal has the second highest mortality rate in South Asia.
The present moment is critical for Nepal in terms of its adolescent population. Inadequate health facilities and the practice of early marriage have contributed to the increase in the mortality rate. The present trend indicates the necessity of encouraging adolescents, particularly girls, to become actively involved in reproductive health programmes, and putting pressure on Government to invest more in this critical sector. The fear and violence created by nine years of insurgency has had a negative impact on Nepal’s limited health infrastructure. Health centres are non-functional as many trained medical staff have left; in certain areas buildings have been destroyed, rural health posts no longer exist, those left standing have no infrastructure, and there is a scarcity of medical facilities for pregnant women.
Nepali women are among the most disadvantaged people on the planet in terms of health and medical facilities. Most of them are denied the right to security in, and control over, their bodies, as well as the right not to be alienated from their sexual and reproductive capacities. Women have been blatantly denied the integrity of their physical person – for example, freedom from sexual violence, from false imprisonment in the home, from unsafe contraceptive methods, from unwanted pregnancies or coerced child-bearing, and from unwanted medical intervention.