Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV) Programme is one of the most successful programmes of the Government of Nepal which was initiated in 2045/46 (1988/1989) in 27 districts and later expanded to all 75 districts.

One FCHV per ward was the concept adopted initially but in 2050 (1993/94) a population-based approach was introduced in 28 districts. Currently, there are 51,416 FCHVs with 46,088 at rural/VDC level and 5,328 at urban/municipality level. Urban FCHVs are mobilized through municipalities, while rural FCHVs are mobilized by local health posts or PHCCs.

The goal of FCHV programme is to improve the health of local communities by promoting public health. This includes imparting knowledge and skills for empowering women, increasing awareness on health related issues and involving local institutions in promoting health care.

Objectives

  1. mobilise a pool of motivated volunteers to connect health programmes with communities and to provide community-based health services,
  2. activate women to tackle common health problems by imparting relevant knowledge and skills;
  3. increase community participation in improving health,
  4. develop FCHVs as health motivators and
  5. increase the use of health care services.

FCHVs are selected by healthy mothers’ groups. FCHVs are provided with 18 days basic training following which they receive medicine kit boxes, manuals, flipcharts, ward registers, IEC materials, and an FCHV bag (Jhatpat Jhola), signboard and identity card. Family planning devices (pills and condoms only) iron tablets, vitamin A capsules, and ORS are supplied to them through health facilities.

The major role of FCHVs are:

  • advocate healthy behaviour by mothers and community people to promote safe motherhood, child health, and family planning and other community based health issues and service delivery.
  • distribute condoms and pills, ORS packets, vitamin A capsules and iron tablets to pregnant women
  • treat pneumonia cases, refer serious cases to health institution
  • motivate and educate local people on healthy behaviour
  • FCHVs are the key cadres who helped to reduce maternal and child mortality in Nepal by supporting home deliveries. They help mothers to initiate baby to mother skin-to-skin contact after delivery, apply chlorhexidine to the umbilicus after delivery and ensure the taking of misoprostol for preventing PPH.

The government is committed to increase the morale and participation of FCHVs for community health. Policies, strategies and guidelines have been developed to strengthen the programme. The FCHV programme strategy was revised in 2067 (2010) to promote a strengthened national programme. In fiscal year 2064/65 MoH established FCHV funds of NPR 50,000 in each VDC mainly to promote income generation activities. FCHVs are recognised for having played a major role in reducing maternal and child mortality and general fertility through community-based health programmes