Making Surgical Care Available to the Remote Rural Areas of Nepal by Dave Carlson.

Providing healthcare to the remote areas of Nepal has always been a challenge from the public health and clinical perspectives. Populated urban areas have historically benefited in quality and services over populations residing in hill and mountain areas. While sparsely populated, over half of Nepal consists of hill and mountain communities.

Now as never before, technological innovation is making it possible to seriously address the health needs of millions of Nepalese people long marginalized. Increasingly tele-medicine is reaching out to remote small clinics and in doing so establishing connections between health care workers and doctors at large urban hospitals in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu. Increasingly, doctors located hundreds of miles distant are now able to video monitor patients at remote clinics and to prescribe non-invasive treatment.

Still, a critical area of need remains and that is to provide a surgical component to the process of healthcare at remote locations. Transporting patients long distances to receive surgery is not within the means of the vast majority of people living in these areas.

To address the need for surgical care made available throughout rural Nepal, Dr. Saroj Dhital of the Kathmandu Model Hospital and Dr. Mahabir Pun of the Nepal Wireless Networking Project are developing a pilot rural surgery initiative. As the Director of Academic Affairs and Chief of General Surgery at the Model Hospital in Kathmandu, Dr. Dhital will lead a team of surgeons working closely with Dr. Pun who is a Ramon Magsaysay Award winning rural community development activist. Together they envision the creation of Rural Health-care Centers operated by local communities trained in primary health care skills and equipped to provide the needed backup support for mobile surgical teams that can routinely visit the Centers.

This pilot project will be launched in the remote mountains of Myagdi District in western Nepal where over the years Dr. Pun has promoted the development of small locally managed community health clinics.

For this project to become fully operational there is a need for specific types of equipment all of which must be portable. Below is a list of essential equipment the project is seeking to obtain, either new or used:

  • anesthesia machine
  • operating light
  • X-ray machine
  • Autoclave (sterilization machine)
  • electrocardiogram (EKG machine)
  • basic surgical hand instruments

For organizations and individuals in the United States able to donate items of equipment noted above or to make a monetary contribution, this can be done via a non-profit organization known as Friends of Nepal (FoN). FoN is an affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association and most of its members are returned Peace Corps volunteers from Nepal. For the past 30 years FoN has funded projects within Nepal that have been conceived of and implemented by local Nepalese (no paid outside contractors). The focus of FoN’s many assistance projects has always been on grass root initiatives targeting those people most in need.

With questions about making a donation of medical equipment contact FoN board member David Carlson at carlson996@msn.com or call (303) 499-2458. A monetary donation can be made by check to Friends of Nepal and mailed to: Suzie Schneider, 181 Mary Jo Lane, Sequim, WA 98382. You can also use a credit card on the FoN website: http://www.friendsofnepal.com

For information about the background of Dr. Mahabir Pun and Dr. Saroj Dhital visit:

http://vimeo.com/24553997    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabir_Pun

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