Nepal’s ventilator ‘bank’ boosts COVID fight in rural hospitals

A ventilator “bank” where hospitals can rent critical care machines for COVID-19 patients has given Nepal’s cash-strapped healthcare system a much-needed lifeline.

The Himalayan nation, like its South Asian neighbours, experienced a spike in infections in April and May with hospitals overwhelmed and medical supplies running low.

As the infectious disease started to spread across the impoverished nation a year ago, Nepal only had 840 ventilators for a population of nearly 30 million, according to government data.

Most of the ventilators, needed to help severely ill COVID-19 patients breathe, were in the capital, Kathmandu, leaving regional and rural hospitals vulnerable.

While daily infections have since declined from a peak of more than 9,000 cases in mid-May, authorities say hospitals remain under pressure.

But Nepal Ventilator Services, a non-profit that has bought 85 of those machines through donations since the start of the pandemic last year, has helped meet the surge in demand.

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