One of our initial goals with AHCN was to reach an area that was as rural as possible, where we would document the health care situation. Rukum is not a frequently visited are by tourists and in effect it was virtually impossible to find out how long it would take to reach a given village prior to our departure. Due to a limited budget we only had one day to walk and we wanted to reach all the way to Sisne. While we did not manage to reach Sisne village it self (at the foot of Sisne peak), we did reach the village of Bhattechaur, which is located in the Sisne Village Development Committee region.
We suspected on the way, that we would have a long walk ahead of us. The locals had told that Bhattechaur took a full day to reach. We quickly found out however, that a distance which would take a local a day too reach may very well take two days for a city folks. Finally we ended up walking 14 hours to reach our goal before we, with soar feet and aching legs, reached Bhattechaur and had the best portion of traditional Nepali food in our lives.
Musikot (in the same area as Jumlikhalanga and Salle Bajjar) is the administrative centre of Rukum. Dr. Justin of our team lived here while still a child, before moving to Kathmandu. During our visit we stayed at their beautiful traditional Nepali house, where Justins grandmother still lives.
During our stay we also met Mr. Chandra Bahadur Malla, a teacher from Rukumkot, who would be our guide on the way to Sisne and back the following 3 days.
On the third day of our trip we would emerge from the flat Terai region in south into the mountains and on the fourth we would have to drive on roads so poor, that it took us 8 hours to drive 35 kilometres.
At times the road would be too narrow for two vehicles and either one or the other would have to back up several hundred meters to find a spot with sufficient room to pass. Seeing people sitting on the top of busses and jeeps in this setting plainly seemed extremely dangerous.
Mountain side terrace-farms were everywhere on the way. We came across numerous small villages and we met many local people. We came across some view points as well and several times Sisne, the tallest peak in Rukum of 5916 metres, would reveal it self in the north. At one of the viewpoints we were lucky to catch an absolutely beautiful sunset over the peak.
We reached Rukumkot, the last location in Rukum that can be reached by car, in the dark at about 9 pm. We received a warm welcome in the village where we stayed with relatives of Dr. Justin Jung Malla.
We would reach Chitwan on the evening of the first day of our trip. We had a meeting with Professor Harish Chandra Neupane, Chairman and Managing Director of Chitwan Medical College Teaching Hospital. His staff helped us create a logo and the hospital donated medication to a value of approximately 10.000 NPR for our project.
At AHCN we wish to thank Sunil Baniya and the Baniya family in Bharatpur for welcoming us so wamly in their home and accommodating us. We are ever so thankful for Mama Baniyas great cooking skills.
As some of you may have read, the current AHCN effort in Nepal is comprised of three phases: 1) documenting the health care needs of rural Nepal, 2) conducting rigorous in-field medical, biomedical engineering and public health research 3) providing sustainable solutions for rural health care services and financing hereof in regions of interest.
Of these, our project in Rukum makes up the first phase. In the following days we will post about from our work in Rukum. This first post is a collection of photos of getting from Kathmandu to Rukum. This took three days as we had several stops on the way: the first day we visited Chitwan Medical College Teaching Hospital and agreed to collaborate in this project and in the future. The second day we visited the Nepal Youth Foundation nutrition centre in Dang and that night we would arrive in Musikot/Jumlikhalanga, the administrative centre of Rukum.
Before we start writing about our actual work, we wish to present out team. Hereby short profiles on each member of the in-field team that conducted phase one of our project: Dr. Justin Jung Malla, M.B.B.S, Licensed Doctor: N.M.C no. 11941. Position at AHCN: Founder and Field Clinical Expert.
Emergency dept. and General medicine dept., Biratnagar Hospital Pvt. Ltd. Biratnagar, Nepal (14 months)
Mr. Rajkumar Silwal, MBA graduate from University of West London with great enthusiasm to support and improve health care in rural Nepal. Good management skills with a combination of leadership, communication, strategic planning and effective decision-making attributes. Experienced semi-professional photographer. Position at AHCN: Director of Finance and Administration. Photographer.
Mr. David Kovacs, B.Sc of Biomedical Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark and University of Copenhagen. Position at AHCN: Founder and President.
President of Engineering World Health at the Technical University of Denmark (10 months)
DUKE-EWH Summer Institute in Tanzania 2014 participant (2 months)
Volunteer at Chitwan Medical College Teaching Hospital (4 months)
Research Assistant at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital (12 months)
Accepted as On the Ground Assistant at EWH Gutatemala Winter Institute 2014/2015 (to be 1 month)
The following gallery is a collection of pictures of our team on our way to Rukum.
“Access Health Care Nepal mobilises national and international medical practitioners, biomedical engineers and other health care workers to provide research for development in rural areas of Nepal. The current AHCN effort is established in three phases: 1) documenting the health care needs of rural Nepal, 2) conducting rigorous in-field medical, biomedical engineering and public health research 3) providing sustainable solutions for rural health care services and financing hereof in regions of interest.”
Today we will arrive in Rukum, traveling through Lamahi, Ghori, Tulsipur, Shitalpati, and Kotmola before reaching our destination of Jumlikhalanga. Here we we will visit the local district hospital to identify areas of need. Our meetings with the NRC and the district officer Mr. Bharat will help us understand more about the infrastructure in the region and determine where we can travel to and how we can get there.
On our way to Jumlikhalanga, we visited the Nepali Youth Foundation (NYF) nutrition center in Ghorani. The center admits malnourished children and their mothers for free for periods of around three months while the children are nurtured back to health. During this time, the mothers are educated on how to cook inexpensive but nourishing food.
During our trip, we will work with the NYF to identify malnourished children, who will then be transported to the center with their mothers free of charge.
It’s not always easy to conduct health projects in a country with an infrastructure like Nepal.
The last two days the AHCR has had meetings with Professor at Chitwan Medical College, Dr. Harish Chandra Neupane and Mr. Nirmal Rimal, project coordinator at AMDA Nepal. Both have shown a great support of our work. We are truly thankful for the guidance of Dr. Harish and Mr. Nirmal Rimal!
Furthermore AHCR has initiated a collaboration with Mr. Nirmal Rimal of AMDA-Nepal and through them, we will assist the Nepali Red Cross in Rukum to perform HIV/AIDS tests of the people we will treat.
Ever since the first time I was in Nepal, I’ve been yearning to go back and really do something for the people I met there. It might have been the parents who lived too far away to bring their sick children to a hospital before it was too late, or maybe the mothers who are in constant fear that they will become pregnant, a condition that should be joyous, but instead is all too often lift-threatening in Nepal. Then there were the others, those who were left without treatment, sometimes to die, simply because the hospital was too busy on that day — or because the family couldn’t afford the necessary treatment. They died due to lack of medication, lack of equipment and lack of funds. It all comes down to a lack of access to healthcare.
With the small and newly founded association Acces Health Care Nepal (AHCR), we have arranged our first project starting on sunday, the 26th of november 2014. Our team consists of Dr. Justin Jung Malla, Dr. Saujan Shreshta, photographer and MBA Finance Mr. Rajkumal Siwal, nurse Ms. Ashmita Malla, and myself (B.Sc Biomedical Engineering). Together we have created AHCR. Our first mission a health camp in Rukum District. Rukum was one of the sites of Maoist insurgency in Nepal and is today one of the poorest and most neglected areas in the country, where access to health care is either scarce or completely non-existant.
You can help us with a donation of your choice at http://gofundme.com/g1mdns. Your help will be greatly appreciated by the people in need of health services in Rukum.
With us we bring medication and basic means of treatment. Our doctors will to treat the patients we meet. Equally importantly, we will document the health care situation in Rukum in articles, that will be shared on this blog as a launching point to reach as far as we possible. As biomedical engineer, I will write a technical report about the health care situation in Rukum with suggestions to projects, that may benefit the health care sitution in the area.
Below are some pictures from previous health camps I have attended in Nepal.