Nepal’s Dr Runa Jha included in UN Women’s ‘Five women on the front lines of COVID-19 response’

Published On: May 2, 2020 07:30 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 2: UN Women has published a list of five women who have stood on the front lines in the fight against the global pandemic of novel coronavirus disease. 

Nepal’s Dr Runa Jha, who is the chief pathologist and director of the Kathmandu-based National Public Health Laboratory, has also been included in the list of five women which was unveiled on the occasion of World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

With a title of ‘Leading coronavirus testing efforts in Nepal’, UN Women has also included a brief description on her introduction and duties she has been carrying out. 

UN Women writes, “Dr Runa Jha is the chief pathologist and director of the only laboratory authorized to conduct COVID-19 testing in Nepal. She and her team are testing roughly 70 samples a day, which arrive at irregular intervals and make for around-the-clock work.”

“Staying late at the lab has become the norm. In addition to the technical work, I also have to manage logistics, such as arranging transportation and food for my team,” Dr Jha told UN Women.

Taking care of her team is a high priority for Jha; it all began in mid-February when her group was the first to enter a quarantine facility housing 175 Nepali students brought home from Wuhan, China.

“My team did not hesitate to volunteer to take samples… all of them were ready. We worked the whole night and produced 175 reports the following day,” she shared.

Months into the pandemic, the intense work continues. Jha does her best to support the workers and boost morale. “It is a very difficult time for us, and I have to keep them motivated. I talk to them whenever I sense they are feeling down. I tell them their safety is our priority,” she said.

The demands of the job have been challenging for Dr Jha too. She’s living alone, separated from her daughter and husband because she fears risking their lives with infection. She can’t visit her parents either, who she used to see three times a week.

“I want to hug my daughter and take care of my parents, but this sacrifice needs to be made to keep them and others safe,” Jha said.

Other women included in the list are given below: 

1. Dina Smailova: a leader of the NeMolchi movement and well-known Kazakhstani activist.

2. Yan Shenglian: a volunteer at a checkpoint in her rural village of Xiaoyao, in China’s northwestern Qinghai Province who checks people’s body temperature and records their vehicle information as they come and go from the village.

3. Ryancia Henry:, director of housekeeping in California, USA, who shares helpful messages on social media, and exchanges best practices with her friends and contacts in the hospitality industry in Antigua and Barbuda (her home country). 

4. Amal Al Mahayrah and Hadeel Dabaibeh: UN Women Field Assistants in Jordan who provide urgent and life-saving services for vulnerable Jordanian women and Syrian refugees every day.

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