Dear members of the Nyaya Health family,
I am writing you today to tell you why we must forever change the way infectious diseases are diagnosed and treated in Far-Western Nepal through a new partnership with One Day’s Wages.
Maya’s pregnancy was complicated by high fevers in her final week that continued after delivery. She was treated at the district hospital, but fever persisted. A week later, Maya arrived at Bayalpata Hospital thin, pale, and with a 106-degree fever and rigors.
Our clinicians did everything possible to identify the cause with the diagnostics available to them. But the greatest tragedy was that our staff could not perform the simplest of tests to work up a fever – a blood culture. Blood culture is so critical because it enables clinicians to identify and isolate the fever-causing bacteria. Without it, specific antibiotics cannot be selected to put an end to the bacteria’s assault on the body.
But in 2011, a laboratory that provided culture tests was a luxury not afforded to the people of Far-Western Nepal. As a result, Maya was treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics and hope. Her condition worsened as her father made journeys to 3 different hospitals seeking, but failing to find, the needed diagnostic capacity. When she eventually returned to our hospital, a transfer plan was prepared. Yet even after one of the most heroic and inspiring attempts at saving a life I’ve ever witnessed – one involving global collaboration and air transfer to a tertiary care center in Kathmandu — Maya succumbed to what we believe was visceral leishmaniasis or kala azar (black fever) in an intensive care unit with our physician and her father by her side.
It was a tragic, unfair and horrifying death for a young girl. Because the truth is thathope is not a strategy we would be comfortable with if Maya were our own daughter or sister. And a comprehensive laboratory capable of performing basic culture and diagnostic tests shouldn’t be an out-of-reach luxury, no matter where you live.
Since that loss, I’ve been determined to prevent such unnecessary deaths so that we can preserve the dignity, promise, and life of patients like Maya.
As this year comes to a close, please work in partnership with us to do just that.Make a donation through One Day’s Wages, and your contribution will be matched so that we can quickly build Far-Western Nepal’s first and most comprehensive culture and diagnostic laboratory that will provide early and accurate diagnoses to a population of over 260,000 people.
With more than hope,
Ruma Rajbhandari, MD, MPH