Tag Archives: developing world

The Harsh Reality for the People of Rural Nepal

The featured image above is a labour bed. This is where mothers of the region give birth – if they go to the hospital at all.

At Access Health Care Nepal we believe that health care is a human right: Everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which includes access to all medical services, sanitation, adequate food, decent housing, healthy working conditions, and a clean environment.

After seeing the current state of the Salle Bajjar District Hospital however, we had to conclude, that if one of us was a patient in this region, we would avoid all contact with its health care system if possible at all. Looking through this gallery speaks for it self. You don’t have to ask yourself whether or not you would like to be admitted here to know the answer. This is the largest public hospital in Rukum and the condition of it is devastating for the people.

After an initial meeting with the doctors of the hospital we were given a tour of the hospital. A quick inventory (made during the tour) showed that more than 66% of the equipment is out of order – and we were not counting the piles of broken equipment in the storeroom as the storekeeper was on leave.

The hospital has 15 beds and an occupancy rate at all time of at least 150% – and 200-300% is not uncommon. The hospital has no biomedical engineering staff and in consequence they have no preventive maintenance program. If something breaks, a request for new equipment is made to the government. Whether the request is met or not is completely unpredictable.

During the Maoist insurgency Doctors Without Borders were active in the region and the hospital was quite well off. However, since activity of the Maoists came to an end around 2011, the activity of Doctors Without Borders did the same, and today the hospital has become completely neglected.

At a hospital like Salle Bajjar District Hospital, the presence of Access Health Care Nepal as well as Engineering World Health would not only be helpful, but would be a part of fulfilling every individual’s fundamental human right to health care.

A central aim of for Access Health Care Nepal is to create awareness of the health care circumstances in rural Nepal. You can help us by sharing this article.

AHCN #7 Musikot

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.

Collaboration with AMDA and Red Cross Nepal

Access Health Care Nepal is very excited about our collaboration with AMDA (Association of Medical Doctors) Nepal.  AMDA is an collection of 33 doctors and runs three hospitals, as well as several other programs and projects in collaboration with other organizations.  AMDA is located mostly in the eastern regions of the country, and has committed to supporting AHCN as we target Rukum district in western Nepal.

AMDA has supplied our health camp with medication donations so that we can conduct general health check ups.  After supplying basic medical care and treatment, we will test for HIV since migrant families are at high risk of contracting STIs in northern India.

Our team left Jumlakhalanga today and will be continuing on foot.  They had great meetings with district officers in Jumlakhalanga to discuss the health care needs in Rukum and the potential for biomedical engineering assistance through partnerships with Engineering World Health. They will most likely not have access to the Internet until they return next week, so we will continue to update as best we can until the end of the health camp.

Please continue to share our story and encourage people to support our cause.  Our goal is to have finished our fundraising campaign by the time the health camp is over. Thank you for your continued support.

http://www.gofundme.com/g1mdns

Meetings in Jumlakhalanga

Traveling to Rukum: Nepal Youth Foundation

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.

Access Health Care in Rukum Nepal #1

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.

AHCProfiles
The founders of Access Health Care Nepal

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.

When Toys are Not Just Toys

Around the world LEGO Company is famous for inspiring creativity through play. Nowadays LEGO is also being used widely for educational purposes. In Tanzania, I found a new use of LEGO that I would have never imagined possible.

This summer I was one of six students from EWH DTU participating in the annual Engineering World Health Summer Institute in Tanzania. We brought 27 kgs of LEGO bricks from LEGO Charity with us. During our stay, we found schools and orphanages to which we could donate the LEGO bricks.

In one case, however, the LEGO bricks could be used for purpose more serious than pure entertainment. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Marieke Dekker, currently the only paediatric neurologist in all of Tanzania – a country with a population of almost 50.000.000.

Dr. Marieke Dekker works with hundreds of children with serious neurological disorders in her work. As a neurologist she uses the LEGO bricks to test fine motor skills and cognition of the children. She is able to asses their development and at the same time give them a once in a lifetime gift that brings great joy. Many Tanzanian children have never seen, let alone owned, toys before:

According to Dr. Marieke Dekker, “LEGO bricks are a great success, especially here, dealing with children suffering from neurological disease. Neurological conditions are often well visible and they are known to cause stigmatisation in African society – it is a huge social problem.”


The stigmatisation of these conditions, even by family members, complicates many children’s access to care. As Dr. Marieke Dekker points out, cerebral palsy is the most common paediatric neurological disorder in Africa. The disease is primarily caused by poor perinatal circumstances and healthcare. The severeness of cerebral palsy is varying results in cognitive, behavioural and learning disabilities. Children with less severe cerebral palsy have proved to be a very successful target group for LEGO bricks.

The LEGO bricks allow doctors like Marieke to assess motor skills, as it “‘breaks the ice’ in the patient-therapist relation and the ultimate joy is to be given the toy upon going home.” says Marieke.

In many cases, the cerebral palsy can be devastating, rendering a child dependent on care around the clock. This group is unfortunately also very common in Africa, mostly concerning school-age children with spinal cord problems. Due to dangerous traffic, falling from trees (harvesting fruits, a major part of African diet), tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, a disproportionate number of children are paraplegic and wheelchair-bound for life.

“Since there is no rehabilitation medicine in Tanzania, they remain in-patients until the family cannot pay the hospital bill anymore, or until they die from pneumonia or infected pressure sores. Many of these children were given LEGO bricks. They built, rebuilt, remodelled and rearranged… it gave them and their caretakers a spark of joy in a circumstance of misery.”  says Marieke Dekker.

Marieke’s patients truly benefit from using the LEGO bricks in the clinic professionally as well as psychologically. It means infinitely much to children to whom such toys would never be affordable, let alone available.

Marieke, the EWH DTU chapter, and I wish to continue this collaboration by bringing LEGO bricks with us to the Summer Institute in Tanzania in years to come!

All photos were taken and published in this article with consent from patients and parents.