Dec 7, 2020

Winter news from our students and doctors in Nepal

Dr Kamal gets ready for work
Dr Kamal gets ready for work

Nepal continues to experience rising numbers of COVID infections; a situation that will likely get worse as it moves into the bitterly cold winter.  Our team in Nepal have been greatly affected by the pandemic, and we strive to support them through these unimaginably difficult times. We held a fundraising auction at the end of the summer and successfully raised over £2000 to send PPE to some of the remote mountain hospitals, and we will continue to monitor and respond to their needs as the situation develops. Medical and nursing colleges sent all classes home at the beginning of lockdown, and our students have been desperately trying to keep up with their studies via online learning – often with limited internet access. They are expected to help out with daily chores in the family home, such as tending to crops and animals. Worryingly, many of our students and doctors have been personally affected by COVID.

"As the cases of corona viruses raising day by day here also, the mortality rate is increasing as well. At the start of October, Nepal had over 77,000 confirmed cases of Covid-10 with 500 deaths (Nepali Ministry of Health and Population). The symptomatic cases are increasing. Now, our country is in 2nd phase of lockdown. Even though the government made the strong intervention to combat with corona, it still fails to control the virus. This is because people are not following government rules strictly. Now it is claimed that the virus is transmitted in community level in remote part of country. This is bad because there are no required health facilities to fight against corona virus. In Karnali Academy of Health and Sciences Hospital (in North West Nepal) there are limited ICU beds and not much PPE. If large groups people are infected there will be no adequate facilities and people will just have to pray to God." Dr Kamal, junior doctor intern in Patan Hospital, Kathmandu

During lockdown, final year nursing student Yuna was unable to make it back to her village as all transport stopped, so has stayed in Kathmandu, studying online once her college re-opened.  She’s been keeping herself very busy – she joined the Nepal equivalent of the Rotary Club, and has been handing out food to street vendors and the poor of Kathmandu. She has also been teaching menstrual hygiene awareness to teenage girls and boys online and has been helping her local community, by measuring their blood pressure, taking their temperatures and providing health education. Great work Yuna!  

“In this pandemic I have done lots of thing for my community. I provided information about corona virus and how we can be stop ourselves from becoming a COVID patient. I try to put my medical knowledge into reality. I hope in the future that I can have a big impact on society; for this I would like to thank DFN.” Santosh (second year medical student)

We are extremely proud of all our doctors and student doctors, nurses and midwives, and all the work that they are doing to keep themselves and the people in their communitites safe from Covid-19.

 

Yuna hands out food in the streets of Kathmandu
Yuna hands out food in the streets of Kathmandu
Santosh helps his mother prepare food
Santosh helps his mother prepare food

Links:

Aug 13, 2020

Lack of PPE in Nepal | Two newly qualified doctors for DFN

PPE delivered to rural health post
PPE delivered to rural health post

COVID-19 NEWS: as COVID-19 lockdown measures begin to ease in many parts of the world, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nepal continues to rise. As of 24th July, there have been 18,374 cases of coronavirus infections active in 76 districts, with 44 deaths, but Nepal is far behind the West and the number of cases, and ultimately deaths, is certain to rise.Very few hospitals or health-workers in Nepal have any form of PPE, so Doctors For Nepal is currently hosting a silent online auction to purchase this much needed equipment to help protect our doctors, nurses, and students. Funds raised will be used to purchase PPE and ensure its distribution to our teams across Nepal. It is extremely challenging for us to raise funds in these extraordinary times as we try to help these forgotten communities, so If we succeed in raising over £5,000, the additional funds will go towards the continuing tuition fees of our students. Please do go to our website for more information.

3rd year DFN medical student Dhanendra has already been making his own efforts to find PPE.  He heard that health workers in his remote part of Nepal– Dailekh, Kalikot and Bajura – have no access at all to basic PPE. He really wanted to do something about this and was talking to his friend who is studying nursing in USA. Together they came up with a plan.

Dhanendra explains “I read news in national daily paper that health workers working in Bajura treating patients without PPE or even masks and that make me so sad. I shared the news with my friend in USA. We talked a lot on the phone and she told me that she can contribute if I can organise. Due to lockdown international flights are canceled and so it was impossible to send masks from USA. So what i did was I call to my friends who are living near city in Nepal. One of my friends sourced the masks in far west Dhangadhi. I called the shopkeeper and made a deal on the price – he was happy with 25 rupees per surgical mask. My friend on USA then put the money in the shopkeepers account and I arranged for a jeep to drive for 2 days to deliver the masks to my home town. We managed to deliver 1800 to 4 rural municipalities and 2 municipalities. It makes me very happy to do this.“

STUDENT NEWS: we are overjoyed to announce that 5th year medical students Apsara and Kamal have both passed their final year medical exams and are now our 5th and 6th Doctors For Nepal. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Dr Apsara and Dr Kamal - we are very, very proud of them. All their hard work over the past 5 years has paid off and they are both truly dedicated to serving the remote communities of Nepal. Both will now work as interns for a year at Patan Hospital in Kathmandu before hopefully finding jobs as doctors back in their remote regions.

Dhanendra sources PPE in Nepal
Dhanendra sources PPE in Nepal
Newly qualified Dr Apsara
Newly qualified Dr Apsara
Newly qualified Dr Kamal
Newly qualified Dr Kamal
Apr 17, 2020

COVID-19 news from our doctors in Nepal

Dr Prakash in Kathmandu
Dr Prakash in Kathmandu

Our founder and chair, Dr Kate Yarrow, returned from Nepal a few days before the lockdown took place in the UK and Nepal.  Kate writes:

"I returned from a trustee visit to Nepal less than a week before the UK went into full lock-down measures to try and restrict the spread of COVID-19. Within a matter of days, all of our lives have undergone unimaginable changes; geographical isolation, food shortages, the risk of life-threatening infection, and worryingly - restricted access to the healthcare that we usually so take for granted.  In a moment of quiet reflection, I noticed that the self-isolation we are experiencing here in the UK is bringing us a little closer to the “normality” of life in Nepal.  Perhaps a lesson to us all - of the hardship that millions have to endure on a daily basis, even before the additional threat of this invisible viral enemy.

As of today, there have only been 16 confirmed COVID cases in Nepal and no deaths; whether or not this is an accurate representation of the actual number is a different matter. But what we do know, is that if COVID takes it's hold on Nepal, and spreads to the western regions, it could be absolutely disastrous for the remote communities. Our doctors are having to work without proper personal protective equipment (PPE), and in poor hospital infrastructures with limited facilities to cope with critically unwell patients.

As a charity, we will do whatever we can to help support our team in Nepal through these challenging times."

Dr Nahakul and Dr Meena are both in remote regions of Nepal and have yet to register any cases of COVID-19 in their small hospitals.  Nahakul has sent 9 samples from his small hospital in Kalikot with none coming back positive,  and Meena has sent 3 samples off from her small hospital in Jumla and is still waiting for the results.

Nahakul says “We are trying to reduce elective work, with many of our pregnant patients being able to follow up by mobile from home.  They are asked to self quarantine.  We have established a health desk at district entry point and all the people have to fill in their personal details and go through initial health check ups. And we also established an isolation ward in the hospital. We are running regular drills and trainings in case we have a positive cases.  We do have some sanitiser but are relying more on hand washing for now with everybody including all patients have to wash their hands at the hospital entrance even before they register their names for hospital services.."

Since sending us his report above, Nahakul now says that “everybody is asked not to come to the hospital.  It will  be completely locked.”

Dr Prakash has just finished his internship at Patan Hospital in Kathmandu and we asked him how viral testing is being undertaken in Nepal and in particular in remote regions like Kalikot?

He says ” There are currently only two RRT PCR centres in the whole of  Nepal, so they collect samples in suspected individuals in the remote regions and then send to Kathmandu.   The Government has made some rules regarding isolation and quarantine but it’s very hard to implement especially for those who come from abroad and who need to earn daily living.  Currently in Nepal there are only 16 positive cases among less than 1000 tested; testing is very slow… but the government plan to test from all 7 provinces by this week and hope testing will speed up.”

We are thinking of all our doctors and students at this very weird and frightening time.  We hope they and you keep safe and well.

Dr Nahakul in his remote hospital in home-made PPE
Dr Nahakul in his remote hospital in home-made PPE
COVID-19 - Dr Meena takes a patient's temperature
COVID-19 - Dr Meena takes a patient's temperature
 
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