Sep 15, 2021

Care on the Move

Dr. Ashok Banskota knew he had to do something. It was 1985. He had returned home, a newly minted US-trained surgeon, and was deeply troubled by the extreme lack of orthopedic care for children in Nepal. In this land of few roads and many mountains, an untreated break or burn could easily disable a child and keep them from school and taking part in village life.

 

He was determined to make good care accessible to all children with physical disabilities regardless of their family’s financial situation and, volunteering his skills and time, opened a small clinic. In the years since, his vision propelled the building of a modern orthopedic Center — the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC) near Kathmandu, with a talented medical team to match.

 

The pandemic is still ravaging Nepal. Lockdowns, travel restrictions, and capacity limits have decreased the number of surgeries and patients overall. Even so, the HRDC medical team has continued to mend the bodies and spirits of Nepal’s children with skill and compassion. Here is a look at how they have been on the move in recent months — responding, adapting, innovating, and curing.

 

They implemented strict Covid-19 protocols immediately after the virus first reached Nepal: patients and visitors screened before entering, all children coming for inpatient treatment tested before admission, a quarantine ward, and the number of patients limited to half capacity. And so, during lockdowns, the hospital has continued to safely care for children in the middle of treatment who couldn’t safely be discharged.

 

Clubfoot is a common condition in Nepal that turns the foot inwards, making it difficult or impossible to walk. Left untreated, the foot stiffens, making it much more difficult to cure. The Ponseti method uses a series of plaster casts to gradually straighten the foot. It’s a huge step forward in correcting clubfoot faster and with less trauma. A child with clubfoot typically has their progressive casts applied at the hospital near Kathmandu. In the pandemic, however, HRDC teams decided to take the casts to the kids — via motorbike!

 

The medical team quickly also embraced telemedicine to provide continued guidance to parents, help children’s rehabilitation continue at home, and consult with field workers and staff at the satellite clinics on diagnosis and follow up treatment. Their five satellite clinics, mobile outreach camps, and 75 field workers are even more essential now, giving young patients the care, they so desperately need.

 

All this means they can reach more children in need and provide better care for their young patients who come to HRDC, broken in different ways, and walk out — yes, walk! — with their heads high into a future full of new possibilities.

Mobile Ponseti in action.
Mobile Ponseti in action.
May 26, 2021

Come with us on a trip to Nepal to STOP Girl Trafficking

An SGT student studying in her home in Kavre,Nepal
An SGT student studying in her home in Kavre,Nepal

STOP Girl Trafficking (SGT) prevents girls from being trafficked by keeping them safe in school. With a network that reaches deep into rural Nepal, SGT finds the girls most in danger of being trafficked into slavery, child labor, or forced marriage, and gives them an education and what they need to succeed. These girls come from families and communities with crushing poverty, long histories of abuse, and deep-seated gender discrimination. The longer they stay in school, the safer they are and the more they learn and grow.

The American Himalayan Foundation (AHF) hosts a STOP Girl Trafficking evening every spring in San Francisco to raise funds and awareness for this critical work. Given the challenges brought by the pandemic, we held the event virtually this year – making it accessible to people around the world.

A recording of the event is available to watch here. The program will bring you on a virtual trip to Nepal to meet the SGT girls, visit their homes and schools, and hear about their challenges and dreams. We hope you’ll take 35 minutes to watch the video, see how SGT works on the ground, and hear the inspiring – sometimes heartbreaking – stories of these brave girls.

Thank you for helping to transform the lives of girls in Nepal. Your generous heart makes all the difference, and we are so grateful to you for believing in them. They will get back to school, thanks to you.

Watch the video here.

SGT girls in Udayapur sending their thanks to you
SGT girls in Udayapur sending their thanks to you

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May 20, 2021

USAID helps HRDC

Good news! AHF has been awarded a grant from the USAID American Schools and Hospitals Abroad Initiative for HRDC to equip their new OR and patient ward with modernized and state of the art medical equipment. Below is the full press release.

WORLD LEADING TECHNOLOGY AND EQUIPMENT CAPABILITY IMPLEMENTED AT KAVREPALANCHOWK HOSPITAL

$500,000 Grant Enables Even Greater Healthcare Services for Children with Physical Disabilities

A $500,000 USAID grant provided through American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA), to the American Himalayan Foundation (AHF), to upgrade the hospital near Banepa, in the Kavrepalanchowk district, has been realized with the announcement that both a newly built 26-bed patient ward, and a newly built operating room, have been provided with world leading, state of the art medical technology and equipment.

The grant, under the USAID Surgical Innovation Project, was awarded in 2018 but the pandemic meant that the procurement and delivery of the equipment was delayed. As a result, the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC), a project which provides services for children with disabilities across Nepal, only received the first equipment shipment in late December 2020.

The first major piece of surgical equipment to arrive was an Intra Operative Nerve Monitoring System (IONM) for neuro and spine surgeries. The IONM allows surgeons to continuously monitor a child’s central nervous system during complex spine surgeries and where the nervous system is at risk of being damaged.

Key pieces of technology in the new operating theatre include: a portable ultrasound and x-ray equipment, an intubating fiber optic bronchoscope, and an anesthesia workstation. In total, 38 pieces of Operating Theatre equipment and almost 180 other necessary items, such as beds and patient lockers for the new ward, have been purchased under the grant.

Dr. Ashok Kumar Banskota, the founder and chairman of the Friends of Disabled, the NGO that runs HRDC, says the grant presented an excellent opportunity to modernize the hospital.

“Thanks to donors such as AHF, HRDC has been able to treat children at little or no cost to the families. This means that children in families who normally could not afford access to life changing surgeries and rehabilitation, can get the medical support they need.

“This is a truly transformative moment for the hospital. For the last 35 years, we have done our best to serve children, and their families, and have positively impacted the lives of nearly 100,000 children. We have done this using the equipment that we have had and focused on maintaining that equipment to the best of our ability. But now, with this grant from USAID/ASHA, we been able to upgrade our surgical and ward equipment to the most modern, most technically innovative and the safest equipment available in the medical world today,” he said. 

Erica Stone, President of the American Himalayan Foundation is also grateful to ASHA for their support. “HRDC has been one of our keystone projects for the past 30 years. Our donors are very supportive of HRDC and have assured us that our commitment to the 100,000 children we have treated and those who will follow will continue for many years to come. The ASHA grant for the purchase of equipment and furniture is an exemplary opportunity for HRDC to modernize, for which they are very grateful.  We at AHF thank USAID/ASHA for the opportunity for us to continue to share our cherished American values of inclusion, equality and environmental conservation.”

HRDC has performed more than 45,000 surgeries ranging from minor tendon releases to major spinal surgeries that take eight or more hours. In addition to surgery, the hospital also provides physiotherapy and manufactures its own assistive devices, such as calipers, orthotic shoes, and prosthetic limbs. In addition to the central facility at Banepa, HRDC operates four satellite clinics in Nepalgunj, Ithari, Lahan and Butwal, and has a team of 76 community-based rehabilitation workers who cover 30 districts across Nepal. It also operates mobile and surgical camps ensuring its services are brought to the most remote corners of the country.

Dr. Banskota’s work at HRDC has received international recognition with a World of Children Award in 2011, the Star Impact Award in 2014, and the World of Children Alumni award in 2016.

HRDC Medical Director, Dr. Bibek Banskota explains his organization’s philosophy. “Our mission is to ensure children with physical disabilities reach their full potential by providing medical interventions with rehabilitation and at the same time removing barriers to cultural inclusion.

“We don’t just treat the disability, we care for the patient as a person, and we extend our care to their families and communities. We search out children with disabilities during our mobile camps, provide them with first-world standard care and facilities, stay with them until they have reached their maximum potential and assist them to reintegrate into society.

“This means ensuring they know how to access government benefits for people with disabilities, or meeting with school communities so they can better understand the child’s need and situation. This often includes myth-busting about the nature of physical disabilities and persuading schools to spend money on disabled-friendly infrastructure such as wheelchair ramps and modifying toilet blocks.

“The grant from USAID/ASHA through AHF is a godsend. Already our surgeons are singing the praises of the pieces of equipment we have already received. The IONM dramatically reduces the risk to these children’s central nervous systems during already complex operations,” he said.

The USAID grant is designed to support the development of the American values of equal and inclusive access to quality health care, surgical risk reduction, gender equality, environmentally sound medical waste management, and best practices in financial and procurement management.

USAID/ASHA-funded equipment, delivered!
USAID/ASHA-funded equipment, delivered!

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