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 wanted to take a moment and share some reflections of my time with the Acupuncture Relief Project in Nepal. I write with a longing in my heart, and lightness or thankfulness, for what the experience has been. ...Longing for the opportunity to be treating patients in need, longing to see those familiar smiling faces that the first week were so unknown, and longing to fall into the simple rhythm of my life at the monastery, mealtimes with the monks, Nepali tea, and early mornings on the rooftop. ...Thankfulness for the experience of new places, new people, shared experiences with friends, and endless hours of conversation with those friends distilling out the nuggets of our learning.
Through my time at the clinic, I have had the opportunity to explore more deeply the quality and accessibility of my education & clinical experience from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM). What can I say – thank you OCOM for the very solid foundation in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the practical confidence to draw upon what I have learned time and time again. In Nepal, there were some extremely complicated cases that would come into the clinic and it was easy to feel overwhelmed by where to start. It was nice to have this experience early on in my "career" – I am more prepared for it now and have more ideas about how to take a deep breath, lean into the unknown and what might feel difficult, and trust that acupuncture works.
I also have a greater practical foundation in western medicine. I gained confidence in recognizing what conditions really needed referrals – for most people in Nepal money is an overwhelming obstacle. I gained practice in taking a symptom picture and fitting the pieces together. I feel that many people walked in with a story and though they usually did not know the name for what they were experiencing, I could understand their issue. I often found myself at night reading through the pages of the Merck Manual - researching certain conditions, thinking about what kinds of treatment are available, or how to best explain to the patient what was happening in their body. In the end, it all came down to how a person felt with treatment. As Kalpana noted in her letter... "people get well and feel happy".
I also value experiences that offer a different perspective than what our normal day to day experience is. I like the shift in what "normal" is because it keeps me open to change, and less attached to the world as I might get used to it being simply through pattern and habit. I like it when the power goes out for 40 hours every week. I like having to figure out how to needle or just palpate someone through 20 feet of material wrapped around their waist when they come in (known as a zumi in Newari but commonly referred to by us as "the armor") with a chief complaint of low back pain. I like weathered faces and smiles that reveal compassion and beauty. I like it when so many things don't matter – like the nature of your clothes, the shoes on your feet, and the house were we live. Instead we get to honor and connect to the person in each of us – the eyes that we meet. One of the greatest gifts of Nepal was the nature of the way people say hello and goodbye. The phrase is "Namaste", while the hands are placed together close to the front of the chest or the face - even slightly touching the space between the eyes on the brow. It's the pause, the moment of eye to eye contact that happens, the moment of stillness - when one is either coming in or leaving. It's not casual - or formal - it is a moment of intention with one another. It's a gift of stillness for a moment, never compromised.
My appreciation goes out to each patient that provided me with an opportunity to learn. My appreciation also goes out to Nicky, the Clinic Director -- she's amazing for figuring out how to make it work everyday! Also to each interpreter and the front desk/front room staff - they helped to make this experience as valuable as it has been.
It's good to be "home" -- and sad to be gone. Namaste ~ Diane Wintzer
After 15 clinic days our team has provided 1100 acupuncture treatments to over 600 patients. We have had such amazing success at relieving chronic pain, severe headaches and some neurological issues that we have graduated many of our patients on to maintenance treatment schedules. We are now seeing far more complicated cases including gastric ulcers, skin rashes and lesions, congestive heart failure and angina, astronomical numbers of hypertension cases, injuries from physical abuse, and many cases involving malnutrition.
One of the most difficult things we are seeing are patients who have had tuberculosis and have undergone 10-12 months of multi-drug treatment. Between the destructive nature of the disease and the toxic effects of the long-term treatment, these patients have had every system in their bodies ravaged. We hope that with regular acupuncture treatments, herbal medicine, dietary changes and excercise we can slowly help them recover some of their vitality.
We have all settled into a more sustainable treatment pace of about 80 patients per day. This pace allows us to spend more time with each patient while still providing enough treatment capacity to meet the communities needs. It also allows us to take care of ourselves with regular meals and enough rest (something we were certainly lacking the first week or so). We have also found the best shop in town to drink Nepali tea.
Thanks for your continued support... we have enjoyed all of the email! --Andrew