Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) are unspoken heroes who deserve our attention. In rural areas of Nepal, as in many other low-income countries, they are the face of health and social care. Mothers, young women and grandmothers, in some cases illiterate and without having left their regions of birth, are the only ones who visit patients and families at home. They are the ones, where there are no health professionals around, who have access to community life and who can best understand the structure and norms of local societies. However, and despite their unique experience and value to rural life, their role is not celebrated but ignored. At Unity in Health, we are determined to empower such women, and to bring greater visibility to their remarkable contribution to rural communities. As part of our pilot community mental health care project in Ilam, over the coming two years we will be training FCHVs in basic mental health support skills. We will also be advocating for better working conditions, for some form of remuneration, and for their inclusion in decision making processes which affect the communities they belong to. We feel excited and honoured to work alongside such unique individuals.

Female_1

FCHVs Workshop, Ilam. April 2019. Credit: UiH