Child Protection started in the UK in 2000 following a series of child deaths and ill-treatment, in particular the murder of Victoria Climbie, the 8-year-old girl who was tortured and murdered by her guardians. Since then all children suspected of being ill-treated or abused are examined by specially trained doctors and social workers and decisions made about their future care. In Nepal no such system exists and, as in any poor country with little state support and only an embryonic social care system, child safeguarding needs are a particular challenge. In many ways, Nepal is 50 or more years behind the UK. Corporal punishment is largely condoned and, until recently, it has been common for menstruating girls to be locked out of sight. Abused children were being treated for their injuries at Kanti hospital then being returned to the ‘care’ of their abusing parents. Training courses and support systems need to be adapted to local needs and practicalities.
Dr Ram Hari Chapagain, Consultant Paediatrician at the Kanti Children’s Hospital, who recently spent three weeks at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool to see how the Child Protection scheme works here, is leading the work in Nepal to set up a similar scheme in his country. In a major initiative, Dr Jamuna Acharya, Consultant Paediatrician at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, and Dr Deepak Upadhyay, Consultant Paediatrician and Course Director of Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust, and a Trustee of So the Child May Live, both led discussions which were attended by 30 doctors and nurses from various hospitals around Nepal. Financial support was received from HExN (Health Exchange Nepal) composed of Nepalese doctors and nurses working in the UK.
(Please view our UNICEF video, which demonstrates the need for formal child protection systems. The current situation in Nepal is illustrated in the second half of the video.)