Jack, Fiona, Elena & Lynn
Nepal trip 2014
Jack Gao, Fiona Huang, Elena Conci, Lynn Zheng
Our trip commenced by spending some time in hospital with Dr Iype Cherian at the College of Medical Sciences, Chitwan. Here, we had the opportunity to visit various departments and learn about the different types of diseases seen in Nepal as well as the healthcare services that are available. Further to this, we had the opportunity to observe some neurosurgery help to clerk in patients with other British medical students at a health camp organized by the CMC in Madi village.
The latter part of our trip was spent in Pokhara where we embarked on another health camp. The majority of our time here was spent giving school children (16 and under) lessons about sexual health, sanitation, the English language and life in England.
What we’ve taken away from the experience
Our time in the CMC opened our eyes to the different disease profile of patients in Nepal (a higher prevalence of parasitic infections) as well as leading us to consider how the social customs and cultural beliefs impacted upon the patients.
Whilst shadowing a doctor in A&E, we discovered that alcoholism was common in Chitwan due to it being drunk at festivals and (to our surprise) a small quantity being given to newborn children! In addition, we discovered that a large contribution to the presence of lung diseases in Chitwan was the cooking of meals over open fires in poorly ventilated kitchens.
A cultural difference that intrigued us was that, when faced with illness, people in the villages would first seek the help of a “shaman” and only if that were unsuccessful would they go to a hospital.
The health camps made us realize just how little access some villages had to medicine and how respected doctors were. As well as seeing the benefits that medical advice and drugs brought to the villagers, we also saw the limits of what can be accomplished by a single health camp, especially with regards to long term care.
During our time teaching in the school, it was impressed upon us the great need that the students had for sexual health education: a topic that is only taught to them in science-focused way rather than addressing questions that they had, themselves. By the end of our time in the school, we felt that we had covered a great deal of topics including relationships, the changes that come with puberty and safe sexual practice in future.
Finally, we found that despite the limited healthcare provision and sanitation in much of Nepal, people still came across as being happy and content with their lives. This made us reflect on the situation in the UK where healthcare and living standards are so good, yet some people will still manage to be displeased. Perhaps this is a lesson for us all!
- The picturesque Nepalese countryside
- Fiona being woken by Lynn giving imaginary schoolchildren a lesson in her sleep!
- Jack teaching Nepalese schoolboys to respect girls and also somehow getting them to understand that periods can be uncomfortable experiences.
- Taking part in the Department of Surgery sports week with Dr Cherian in Bharatpur.
- The enthusiasm of the schoolchildren was incredibly infectious!
- Meeting the other lovely volunteers on the Mountain Trust team and getting to know them all.