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.
35-year-old female presents with multiple bilateral joint pain beginning 18 months previously and had received a diagnosis of…
20-year-old male patient presents with decreased mental capacity, which his mother states has been present since birth. He…
60-year-old female presents with spinal trauma sequela consisting of constant mid- to high grade pain and restricted flexion…
80-year-old male presents with vomiting 20 minutes after each meal for 2 years. At the time of initial…
In the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, this episode explores the challenges of providing basic medical access for people living in rural areas.
Acupuncture Relief Project tackles complicated medical cases through accurate assessment and the cooperation of both governmental and non-governmental agencies.
Cooperation with the local government yields a unique opportunities to establish a new integrated medicine outpost in Bajra Barahi, Makawanpur, Nepal.
Complicated medical cases require extraordinary effort. This episode follows 4-year-old Sushmita in her battle with tuberculosis.
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.
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.
This episode looks at the people and the process of creating a new generation of Nepali rural health providers.
In this 2011, documentary, Film-maker Tristan Stoch successfully illustrates many of the complexities of providing primary medical care in a third world environment.
I don’t know about you, but I grew up eating rice for basically every meal. My job in the house was to make sure the rice was washed and cooked by the time my dad got home from work. Then he would make a vegetable stir fry or beans and the whole family would eat that every night. Any left over rice would be made into fried rice for breakfast the next morning. Only my asian friends understood why my family had two rubbish bins in the kitchen—one for rubbish, the other full of rice...and this was because they had the same thing in their kitchens too. Look under the sink cupboard and you’d find an industrial size of Aloha shoyu too!
I had never seen rice fields until I came to Nepal. When we first arrived at the beginning of October you could see all the tiers of rice that were carefully planted. The green stalks made the hillsides so lush and beautiful! Fast forward to today and this is the last week of camp. It’s the beginning of November and rice harvest has been in full force for the last week or so. This has caused our patient counts to be lower each day but it’s kind of nice that we get to spend more time with the patients who do come in.
One day after clinic I wandered through the fields to watch how rice is actually harvested. The people were all very friendly and didn’t mind that I was snooping around taking pictures. I’ve gone to Asian markets my whole life to buy my favorite brand of rice and have never once stopped to think about how labor intensive the process is. When the rice turns just the perfect shade of golden-brown, the whole community comes together to help one another harvest the fields. The rice stalks are cut into perfect bundles and then they are sent through a machine that pulls the grain from the stalk. How is this machine run? By man power. Someone is in charge of pumping the machine with their foot the whole time. Talk about strong quads! Once the grain is separated women put it in large flat baskets and sift out the smaller pieces. The stalks are then collected again and laid in the field in perfect symmetry to dry. These are later used to feed the cows, water buffalo and goats. -- Raina Chang
Before rice harvest (Taukhel)
After the rice has been harvested (Taukhel)
And this picture because no blog post is complete without a beloved water buffalo <3
I looked down to check that I had everything. I wore my white lab coat, new name tag, and had pens in my pocket. My supplies were all laid out for the day, so familiar, and yet the surroundings quite new; the clinic’s dark red curtains, the colorfully-woven stools, shelves of Chinese herbs, the sound of patients speaking Nepali, and simple beds with turquoise sheets. I reassured myself that there was nothing to be nervous about. I had been preparing for this for so long. Besides, I had done this before, hadn’t I? Some elements of my first day at the Bajrabarahi clinic in Nepal stand out in my memory. I keenly remember my apprehension as patients were funneled in to sit on the plastic lawn chairs and waited expectantly while taking in my appearance. I wondered if I would know what to do. Would I be able to help them? I had so many questions and I often still do.
Nothing could have prepared me for the transition into treating patients in Nepal. At first it felt like chaos. There were often people waiting to be seen both inside the small work space and outside, people talking loudly, coughing, spitting, laughing, and people looking through the windows watching me work. My interpreter and I sat on low stools in front of patients and tried to make sense of each case over noise, language and cultural barriers, and with no privacy whatsoever. I felt the weight of time constraints and the needs of many waiting patients. I sat all day in a riot of stimulation and found that my own expectations were surging. I began to realize that my mind was occupied with expectations of myself to make good assessments, catch red flags, establish rapport, and provide healing treatments. I even began to notice that I had expectations of how the stories should be told, how the body should respond to treatment, how the clinic atmosphere should be, how healing and health should be, and so on. Instead of letting each story unfold and really looking at what was in front of me, I was filled to the brim with my own ideas of what ‘should’ be happening. Each day in clinic I found that, much to my frustration, all of those expectations of how things ‘should’ go were being unmet and by having these expectations I was resisting life.
Cricket highlights are buzzing in my left ear, as I peel apart crinkling, plastic sleeves of a wedding album. My patient’s fourteen-year-old son splits his attention between the static screen and his sister’s wedding photos, dutifully providing me with descriptions of each face’s relation to the family.
“Mother’s big sister’s husband.”
“New husband’s mother’s big mother.”
Overhead, two occupied bird’s nests are harmoniously integrated into the wooden beams and cool clay of this traditional Newari home. An ornately carved shutter is open, shedding warm sunlight on my lap to compliment the sticky-sweet, masala tea in my hand. I am beginning to feel more healed than healer, the boundaries dissolving between myself, the soft, fleece couch cover beneath me, and the mother and son flanking my sides.
My patient’s charm is contagious. A muscular woman in pink who doesn’t rise past my breast, she pulled me in from the street, scythe in hand. She is beaming at her doctor’s compliments of her daughter’s beauty, which are completely sincere. The twenty-two year old bride’s smile outcompetes a heavy red tika, layers of bright cloth, and grass, glass, and metallic adornments. Her son tells me she lives in Baltimore, and I am excited to convey that I share a coast with his sister, as we three sit atop each other on the small couch.
I hear heavy footsteps below, and quite suddenly the television’s light is extinguished and the photo album stowed away. I greet my patient’s husband, “Namaste”, and receive a stoic acknowledgement. My patient is bringing her fingers to her mouth, offering me to join their morning meal. Feeling as though a storm has moved in, I enthusiastically thank them and take my leave. My thoughts wander to the metronome of my footsteps… is my patient seeking relief for more than her inflamed elbow?