Posted by Bibhav Acharya
Dr. Prativa Pandey, Director of the CIWEC Clinic in Kathmandu, recently visited the Bayalpata Hospital and has since offered to support Nyaya Health with a large donation of hospital supplies and equipment, and further ongoing support through the CIWEC Clinic. We had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her involvement with Nyaya for the Nyaya Blog:
What made you decide to visit Nyaya’s Bayalpata Hospital in Achham?
I have been involved with the America Nepal Medical Foundation (ANMF) Nepal chapter since its founding over 10 years ago. In 2007, I agreed to be the project co-ordinator for ANMF since Nyaya had applied for funding with ANMF. Secondly, I have been running the CIWEC Clinic Travel Medicine Center in Kathmandu for 15 years and have always wanted to tie up with a rural health care facility in Nepal and had been on the lookout for one. I was hearing lots of good things about Nyaya that was serving people in a very remote location and was very interested to see how it was doing. It took a long time for me to do this due to various logistic reasons but I am so glad that I was finally able to visit.
What were some of the most striking things about Achham?
It appeared that there was a lot of potential in hydro-power, agriculture and tourism in Achham but nothing was being harnessed for the benefit of the people. They lacked clean drinking water (in spite of the big rivers flowing through there), health care, education and jobs. People were very poor and simple. Most of the households had men working in India and women who were not educated ran the household, took care of babies and the elderly and did all the field work as well. In spite of all work, status of women in the society was really low.
How was your experience at Bayalpata Hospital?
It is the only hospital serving the area. Access to the hospital was a problem when I visited but the road from Sanfe to Mangalsen should be built soon resolving this problem. Bayalpata Hospital seemed to be well staffed by motivated people but was very short on resources. It has basic medications, oxygen, IV fluids, minor surgery equipment, Ultrasound, power back-up, a laboratory that can perform routine tests, outpatient area, inpatient and emergency beds. It lacks X-ray equipment, an operation theatre, an expanded laboratory that can do microbiology, linen, mattresses and many other things. The facility is a cluster of buildings over 20 years old built by the Government of Nepal. Walls are made of stones and mud with tinned/slate roof. Roof leaks in many places during the rainy season even after it has been fixed. Since the buildings are old, the rooms are not well protected from the elements. It appears that refurbishing/renovation of the buildings was done when Nyaya took over but due to lack of well trained personnel and lack of adequate funds, it could not be done properly. Essentially, it is a place where medical care is provided but the building appearance does not let you have a nice and warm feeling. It is not cozy and welcoming. If one had enough funds, it would be a good idea to tear these buildings down and replace with a new purpose- built building with well lit spaces, hot running water, adequate electricity etc. The hospital sits on a hill that gives you almost 360 degree views and is a superb location. There is lots of unused land that belongs to the hospital.
You had a rather difficult time leaving Achham. Tell us about that.
I had gone to Achham to spend about 4 days. After a flight to Dhangadi where we spent one night and a 10 hour long jeep ride, we had reached Achham. While going to Achham, the road was very smooth and I was wondering why Achham had not developed in spite of being connected by a very nice road. The day after we reached, it started to rain and it rained non- stop for 4 days. We had news that the road was washed away by landslides in many places but we thought it would clear in a day or two. This was not to be the case and we kept waiting for 4 days. Finally I went down to Sanfe to hire a helicopter to bring me back to Kathmandu. After 2 days of trying, my family in Kathmandu was able to charter a plane that would fly me to Surkhet from where I took a jeep to Nepalgunj and a flight back to Kathmandu. The airport in Sanfe had not been used to fly a plane for 5 years since maoist bombing that destroyed the tower building. I was told that it was a challenge to fly a plane in and out of Sanfe in that situation.
What made you decide that you wanted to help Nyaya?
As I said before, I had wanted CIWEC to have association with a rural health care facility to contribute to the health care of rural Nepal and have been looking out for the right institution. I have been very impressed with the dedication, volunteerism of almost everyone involved with Nyaya who work hard under difficult conditions to bring quality health care to the people of Achham.
You have offered to help Nyaya with whatever the greatest need is. This is in contrast to several donors who may wish to donate or fund a specific equipment, program or a disease. Why did you decide the way you did?
Since I visited the facility I know the things that would make a big difference in how health care providers can work and take care of patients and these may not always be specific equipment, or programs.
Any other comments.
I sincerely hope that Nyaya can continue to survive and grow and offer more preventive and curative services to the people of Achham who seem to have been so neglected for so long. Hopefully, one good thing will lead to another and this could be the beginning of a developed Achham.