• Primary Care

    Since 2008, Acupuncture Relief Project volunteers have delivered over 300,000 primary care visits in rural Nepal.
  • Effective Treatment

    Frequent, focused treatments allow us to see positive changes in a patient's condition quickly.
  • Research Focused

    Conducting research studies and documenting patient cases helps us analyze the efficacy of our clinic and contribute to the body of evidence that supports our project model.
  • training & mentorship

    Acupuncture Relief Project offers meaningful training opportunities and employment to interpreters and local healthcare workers.
  • Providing Access

    According to the World Health Organization, Nepal's healthcare system ranks 150th in the world with less than one doctor per 6000 people.
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Our Mission

Our unique model provides effective, efficient, primary care in rural Nepal. Read More

Our Clinics

Since 2008, our clinics have provided over 350,000 primary care visits. Read More

Our Partners

Influencing government policy and achieving educational goals. Read More

Volunteer With Us

We need your help. Serve others while learning new skills. Read More

Our Evidence

Case studies and field research helps us analyze our efficacy. Read More
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Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in the world and has been plagued with political unrest and military conflict for the past decade. In 2015, a pair of major earthquakes devastated this small and fragile country. 

Since 2008, the Acupuncture Relief Project has provided over 300,000 treatments to patients living in rural villages outside of Kathmandu Nepal. Our efforts include the treatment of patients living without access to modern medical care as well as people suffering from extreme poverty, substance abuse and social disfranchisement.

Common conditions include musculoskeletal pain, digestive pain, hypertension, diabetes, stroke rehabilitation, uterine prolapse, asthma, and recovery from tuberculosis treatment, typhoid fever, and surgery.

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Featured Case Studies

  • Palliative Management of End-Stage Emphysema +

    71-year-old male presents with cough and severe shortness-of-breath, caused by emphysema. Initially, patient was stabilized during an emergency Read More
  • Bilateral Hip and Low Back Pain +

    19-year-old male presents with trauma-related chronic hip and low back pain with limits in range-of-motion that interferes with Read More
  • Chronic Headache (Typhoid Fever Sequela) +

    43-year-old female presents with a severe headache. 9 months ago, the patient contracted Typhoid fever. During the illness, Read More
  • Emotional Depression +

    40-year-old woman presents with depression, emotional stress and dream-disturbed sleep. She presents with a secondary complaint of chronic Read More
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Compassion Connect : Documentary Series

  • Episode 1Rural Primary Care

    Episode 1
    Rural Primary Care

    In the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, this episode explores the challenges of providing basic medical access for people living in rural areas.

    Watch Episode

  • Episode 2Integrated Medicine

    Episode 2
    Integrated Medicine

    Acupuncture Relief Project tackles complicated medical cases through accurate assessment and the cooperation of both governmental and non-governmental agencies.

    Watch Episode

  • Episode 3Working With The Government

    Episode 3
    Working With The Government

    Cooperation with the local government yields a unique opportunities to establish a new integrated medicine outpost in Bajra Barahi, Makawanpur, Nepal.

    Watch Episode

  • Episode 4Case Management

    Episode 4
    Case Management

    Complicated medical cases require extraordinary effort. This episode follows 4-year-old Sushmita in her battle with tuberculosis.

    Watch Episode

  • Episode 5Sober Recovery

    Episode 5
    Sober Recovery

    Drug and alcohol abuse is a constant issue in both rural and urban areas of Nepal. Local customs and few treatment facilities prove difficult obstacles.

    Watch Episode

  • Episode 6The Interpreters

    Episode 6
    The Interpreters

    Interpreters help make a critical connection between patients and practitioners. This episode explores the people that make our medicine possible and what it takes to do the job.

    Watch Episode

  • Episode 7Future Doctors of Nepal

    Episode 7
    Future Doctors of Nepal

    This episode looks at the people and the process of creating a new generation of Nepali rural health providers.

    Watch Episode

  • Compassion Connects2012 Pilot Episode

    Compassion Connects
    2012 Pilot Episode

    In this 2011, documentary, Film-maker Tristan Stoch successfully illustrates many of the complexities of providing primary medical care in a third world environment.

    Watch Episode

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From Our Blog


Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Emma Sanchez

Time is flying by and we have less than a week before this camp’s rotation is over and the clinic will close until September.  The first week or so here was a mad scramble to work out how to treat two to three times more patients than I would normally see in a day; how to work through an interpreter; how to modify my intake for this population to get the information that I need; and how to screen patients for more serious health issues than I would come across at home.  I became more comfortable with this dance, allowing me to really focus on assessing the effectiveness of the treatments and what could be done to get patients into the best possible shape before we leave.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Emma Sanchez

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Emma Sanchez 

In the beginning, when I asked my patients how their complaint had been since the last treatment, the reply was often “no change” or “just a little better”.  No change can literally mean “no change”, but more frequently, it can also mean “not completely better”.  Spending time out in the community and seeing my neck pain patients haul heavy baskets on their head, or my back pain patients bent over planting potatoes or chasing an ox, reminded me to check if there had been positive changes after their treatment and what they had been doing when the pain started to flare up again. Is this knee patient slow to improve because it isn’t the right treatment, or because she has to walk for 4 hours to get home because the blockade means that there is no fuel for the buses?  Was their elbow pain fine until they cut the corn?  Would the shortness of breath and chest pain be better by now if they weren’t forced to burn wood indoors for heat and cooking, and weren’t surrounded by steep hills?

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Emma Sanchez

Most of our patients have had little or no previous contact with medical professionals and aren’t accustomed to speaking about their symptoms.  Refreshingly, they haven’t read too much into the latest article in the Health section of The New York Times or googled potential diagnoses, and consequently symptom descriptions are often more abstract.  Furthermore, there are over a hundred distinct castes and ethnic groups in Nepal and almost as many dialects, so while Nepali is the official language, it is not necessarily the form that many of our patients might best use to express themselves.  Our interpreters are the most talented, patient, big-hearted and persistent crew you could wish for, and even if they speak the languages of multiple ethnic groups, it is inevitable that some nuances of description will get lost.  Both Eastern and Western Medicine demand degrees of clarity as to what we are treating.  I appreciate now how useful it would have been to have better tongue and pulse diagnosis skills.  Pain scales and percentages of improvement are foreign concepts, as are range of motion tests, so progress is gauged by measures that have more day-to-day meaning, measures that bring me into their lives.  Can they now squat to do their tasks?  Does it take less time to walk to the clinic?  Can they now grip the broom with just one hand?  Maybe it still hurts to lift a bucket of water but pulling the blanket over the bed no longer causes pain.  

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Emma Sanchez

For me, the interaction with this beautiful, big-hearted community has been immensely rewarding.   Despite setbacks in recovery, the difficulties that my patients experience in getting here, the sometimes hours-long wait in below freezing temperatures, our patients keep coming because they believe in the treatment, they appreciate our presence and our efforts, and are grateful for even the most minor improvements.  For some, it is in the balance as to whether the benefits outweigh the physical costs, but they are tenacious, willing to persevere, and diligent about following lifestyle and exercise recommendations.  In the first weeks, I had some tougher exchanges where, pressured by the long line of people waiting to be seen and unsure as to what more I could do, I had been defensive and brusque in response to a couple of patients venting frustration about their lack of improvement.  On reviewing their charts at the end of the day, I was ashamed to realize that both were patients who had walked for more than 4 hours each way over rough terrain in the depth of winter, stymied by the current absence in public transport and lack of medical assistance closer to home.  

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Emma Sanchez

I am confident that the majority of the patients who have passed through the clinic over these past months are in much better health, but for a few, we will have to decide together what will be their best course of action after we leave.  What can I suggest for the patient with rheumatoid arthritis of the wrist whose progress continues to be set back by everyday tasks?  When do I concede that my patients with high blood glucose should be referred to the hospital several hours away for medication because we are running out of time to lower their numbers via diet and treatment?  Will the hypertension patients be vigilant about checking their levels?  

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Emma Sanchez

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Emma Sanchez

As the Nepalis say, ‘What to do?’  For the moment, this clinic runs for just six months a year, staffed by foreign practitioners, but a big part of what appealed about this particular relief project is its investment in the big picture.   Not only does this clinic and it’s satellites show how Chinese medicine can go above and beyond fleshing out the gaps in rural healthcare, but it also serves as a training ground for the first generation of Nepali acupuncture students who come to observe and assist alongside us.  There is so much potential here and I’m excited to have had the chance to come and participate. ---Emma Sanchez

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