Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
Hasilo Nepal is a 3-year project aimed to sustainably foster community empowerment by working with local community health workers and non-profit organizations in Nepal to improve oral hygiene and nutrition in young children by focusing on preventative measures. To create sustainability, we focus on training community health workers, who then teach the parents and children about good oral hygiene, proper toothbrushing techniques and nutrition education. Additionally, the team is dialoguing with UNICEF and Ministry of Health to incorporate the program on a national level. This project aims to alleviate malnutrition and improve oral health in children by nutrition and oral hygiene education, application of fluoride varnish, dental examinations, and distribution of toothbrushes and toothpaste.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Over the past 2 years, we have educated Nepali health workers, parents and children on nutrition and oral health, and provided toothbrushes, toothpaste and fluoride varnish, at a cost of $5 per child per year. The health workers have taken full initiative of our program even in the absence of the US team—by fully embracing and taking ownership, they have shown how this project has the potential to succeed in bettering the health of individuals and communities in Nepal after the project concludes.
In addition, some schools sites embraced the project’s message, instituting policies, such as banning junk food and candy and embracing healthier alternatives. By using this method, we hope to collaborate with teachers and program leaders to initiate school-wide policies that incorporate the message of our project. Lastly, we are working with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health to incorporate an oral health intervention with existing nutrition programs geared towards the same age group.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
The ultimate goal of the project is to expand the services to children all over Nepal by incorporating this program into national health programs. Strategies for reaching this goal revolve around collaborating with government and non-government agencies involved in health and education. Preliminary meetings to introduce this program have been held with the Nepal Ministry of Health and UNICEF. In addition, the project team would like to develop a "Best Practices Toolkit" to help start this project in other countries. Childhood malnutrition is a persistent global health issue, with over 146 million underweight children worldwide. Oral health is often overlooked as a contributing factor to malnutrition and this strategy can and has already been implemented in multiple countries.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Barriers hindering the success of our project are ubiquitous advertising of low-nutrient junk foods that has in many cases taken over the Nepali diet, the Nepali community’s continued compliance in buying products from large commercial corporations, and the financial cost of dental care. We aim to implement discussions at our sites to stress the importance of maintaining diets consisting of traditional meals and explain the negative impacts of eating processed foods in combination with not maintaining sound oral health practices. Lastly, we hope to overcome financial distress from dental care costs by including our dentists in a practical intervention component in a way that would not diminish the importance of prevention.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Implement follow-up health camps this summer and continue to reach out to larger organizations regarding project adoption.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Convince organizations to adopt and incorporate this program into national programs and complete the final year of health camps.