Surmang Foundation

We work in a place that is 97% ethnic Khampa Tibetan. Our mission is to promote health among the ultra-poor, those who earn less that US 14/day, in remote Qinghai Province, China. With few roads, cars or electricity, creating access to services is a high priority.Our goal is to create greater access to health care and earlier intervention, applied to mother and child health. He hope to overcome world-record high maternal and infant mortality/morbidity. We have accomplished this with a regional medical center, a model for rural health care delivery among the ultra-poor that is being prototyped in the Yushu Public Health System.
Aug 13, 2012

Health and Life for Yushu's Mothers and Children

CHW training
CHW training

Last year we reduced infant and maternal mortality to zero in a region that has some of the highest in the world.

For our foundation, we believe that when you have something that works –share it. That was the inspiration behind our post-earthquake government partnership.  We want to expand our network of Community Health Workers to the 4 most severely damaged township clinics in Yushu Prefecture:  Mozhang, Xialaxu, Xiewu and Longbao. So this summer so far, we concentrated on this.

We began our government partnership project in June under the auspices of Janice Tse-Yongjee. Janis is a Khampa Tibetan who has worked for us every summer since 2004. She is entering her second year as an MPH student in the US, and when she graduates next May we hope she will be able to add her expertise on a full time basis.  She is fluent and literate in Tibetan, Chinese and English.

Together with Drs. Phuntsok Dongdrup (Surmang Clinic Director) and So Drogha (Associate Director), and one of our senior Surmang Community Health Workers (CHWs) Palmo, they trained 20 new CHWs. Xiewu is 40 km north of Yushu/Jiegu and 4 hours north of Surmang. Longbao at 4500m, was near the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake, and is about 8 hours from our Surmang Clinic and 4 hours from Yushu/Jiegu.

It is very difficult to describe the logistical and environmental challenges they had to overcome. To set up the training in these areas, you don’t exactly call to make an appointment.  Most of this region is without telephone or electricity. In most of June most women were gone, collecting “worm grass,” cordyceps sinesis. The roads are unpaved, and wet from the summer monsoonal rains which come over the Himalayas from India. Even for Tibetans, it is still Tibet.

Our biggest accomplishment was not just that our foundation trained new CHWs, but that they –Janis, Phuntsok and Drogha, and Palmo-- did it by themselves. This is the first time any foundation has had accomplishments such as these, without any foreign oversight.   

They did it on their own. This impressed our senior public health consultants and me. It was this kind of dedication and grit that was the reason we have so many patients and why we treated so many mothers and children last year at Surmang. Now is our chance to expand this work 4 times. With your help we can succeed.

If you read the news, you know the difficulty the current situation and how lucky we are to still be operating in a Tibetan area at all...and are one of the few International foundations to do so. I feel confident that with your continued support, we will continue to help the women and children in our catchment.

Janis training a CHW
Janis training a CHW
our clients
our clients
well baby exam
well baby exam
baby whose birth was attended by CHW
baby whose birth was attended by CHW
CHW Training
CHW Training
CHW Training
CHW Training
CHW Training
CHW Training

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Jul 5, 2012

Postcard: Project Site Visit

Dr. Drogha treating a patient
Dr. Drogha treating a patient

Charlene Chan is an In-The-Field Representatives for GlobalGiving. She is visiting projects throughout China. Here is her most recent "postcard" from Yushu, China:

Recently, Mari and I visited the project site of Surmang Foundation, a clinic in the remote Tibetan plateau providing free medical services. The project also aims to train local women to become midwives or as the clinic calls them, CHWs (Community Health Workers), with the objective of reducing infant and maternal mortality. 

Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by the two doctors running the clinic, Dr. Phuntsok Dongdrup and Dr. So Drogha, as well as a translator, Janis Tseyongjee. The two doctors live at the clinic, housed in temporary housing after the devastating earthquake that hit the region in 2010 destroyed their homes. The clinic itself was established in 2000, and while the CHW project is relatively new, the two doctors have been treating patients from all over the Tibetan plateau for a long time. 

The next day, Dr. Drogha very kindly allowed Mari and I to observe while she treated patients. She saw about 20 patients that day, with ailments ranging from arthritis to tumors. Throughout the day, Dr. Drogha patiently answered all our questions and her patients kindly consented to us being in the room while undergoing treatment. I was most impressed by the patience, warmth and dedication the doctors displayed toward their patients despite their busy schedule - their patients were like family to them, and many of them stayed after receiving treatment to chat and play with Dr. Drogha's young daughter. When asked, they expressed fondness and gratitude for the clinic. Besides the free medical treatment, the clinic provided a more effective alternative to the traditional Tibetan medicine that most Tibetans resorted to when sick. Many patients had also traveled from afar to seek treatment, some as far as four hours away by motorcycle! 

While we were not able to observe the CHW project in action, we managed to see a patient who was under the care of a CHW, and had come to the clinic for her free ultrasound. Dr. Drogha explained to us that each CHW was expected to perform 3 prenatal visits, deliver the baby and perform 3 postnatal visits to check on both the mother's and the infant's health. The CHW would be paid 200RMB (about 30 USD) per patient. There has been great demand for CHWs in neighboring villages, and while Surmang Foundation is looking to expand the program, funding has become their main obstacle. 

Both Mari and I were sad to leave the clinic, its beautiful surroundings and the warm and wonderful people that run the clinic. We hope the clinic will be able to obtain more funding to expand its program and operations, to improve the lives of the inhabitants of the Tibetan plateau! 

We met a really shy CHW on the way to the clinic
We met a really shy CHW on the way to the clinic
The entire team!
The entire team!
Apr 11, 2012

So Far this Year

CHW training Surmang
CHW training Surmang

At the Clinic

In the last 3 months, Surmang Foundation has continued the training of Community Health Workers in the area within a 50-mile radius of the Surmang Clinic. At the same time, the CHWs have continued to treat pregnant women, attend to births, do well baby examinations and refer patients that demand more complex services to the Surmang Clinic. We are continuing the momentum gained last year, when maternal mortality was reduced to zero.

Clinic use continues to be busy – with about 1000 patient visits per month.

 

Expanding the Catchment to include a Nunnery

Surmang Foundation has also taken the first steps in a strategic partnership with a large Nunnery in Yushu Prefecture.   This nunnery has experienced high levels of TB and hepatitis in the past year. The extension of services to this nunnery and the nearby village will comprise an extension of our strategic  government partnership. These first steps in this direction included sending our lead doctor, Phuntsok Dongdrup, and our Mother and Child Health Director, So Drogha, both ethnic Tibetans, there to conduct a preliminary assessment.  Their drive from Surmang took over 14 hours.

According to preliminary reports, the situation is dire:  cramped unheated housing, lack of sanitary conditions.  Our next steps will be to develop a strategic plan to address the more severe problems related to health and health care.  This will undoubtedly result in a CHW-like program there, as well as recommendations related to basic hygiene.  Surmang Foundation has already begun talks with Village People Foundation about the feasibility of bathhouse construction there and at 3 other locations in Yushu Prefecture. 

Finally, Surmang Foundation has acquired the rights to distribute –for free—the Tibetan version of Our Bodies, Our Selves.  This book along with similar references from Jinpa Foundation and One Heart foundations, completes our written Tibetan language resources for village health worker training.

CHW training
CHW training

Links:

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