MHN Post Disaster Psychosocial support activities served more than 6000 earthquake survivors

As we all know that the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25 April 2015 and 7.3 magnitudes on 12 have traumatized our community. Since then our goal was to provide the local people with psychological support. And the one easy method we doctors from Mountain Heart Nepal used was expressive therapy which allows people to express themselves in different way not necessarily by speaking especially for children through arts, music, and dance; expressing themselves and relieving their stress and preventing future mental health problem.

Such camps were conducted on places of SIndhuli, Nuwakot, Makwanpur and Kathmandu and served more than 6000 men, women and children.

Medical Camp at Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur following Earthquake in 2015

Kathmandu

MHN supported Disabled welfare society of Nepal for conducting seven day long medical camp and served 1800 families (7144 people) living in tents (temporary shelters) in Chuchepati, Kathmandu. The camp was supported by various organizations working in earthquake relief operations.

Bhaktapur

bhaktapur_camp

MHN medical volunteers with other people provided free medical treatment and advice for the people of Dekocha, Bhaktapur on May 19, 2015. We also collected medical data to help gain a better understanding of the most common health issues in the area.

Lalitpur

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Due to poor road situation any health camp had never been organized in Thula Dhurlung. Reaching the place was actually more difficult than expected. Our vehicle could only help us to cover half the distance, the other half was off road so we had no other option than pushing our vehicle to our destination. Despite all the difficulties we faced, we were successful to treat about 250 patients.

Dr. Gautam attending World Extreme Medicine in Edinburgh

Dr. Aban Krishna Gautam, founder and president of Mountain Heart Nepal, has been awarded with the “David Weil Extreme Medicine Bursary”.  As the recipient of this award, Dr. Gautam has been invited to attend the 2016 Extreme Medicine Conference & Expo held in Edinburgh, Scotland from November 18th until November 21st. During the conference, he will present the work done by Mountain Heart Nepal to a renowned international community of medical professionals involved with health care in remote areas and harsh conditions and also get a chance to attend various lectures and workshops concerning medical care in resource poor settings and difficult climatological conditions.

Since 2012 World extreme medicine has brought expedition doctors, paramedics, and nurses across four disciplines: disaster and humanitarian medicine, extreme, expedition and space medicine, human endurance and sports medicine plus prehospital medicine. At the Conference these health professionals will share the latest developments in extreme environment healthcare and educate others in what they can do differently.

Mountain Heart Nepal  (MHN) is a non-profit humanitarian organization based in Nepal. It was founded after the devastating earthquake hit the country on April 25th, 2015. The initial purpose was disaster relief and treating those who suffered injuries during the natural disaster, but soon the organization expanded and focused its attention on providing free medical care to people in remote, inaccessible, and austere environments throughout the country.

Since its inception, MHN has conducted 28 medical camps and more than 17,000 people have benefited from the services provided. Aside from bringing doctors and other medical professionals to often overlooked districts for check-ups, treatment and prescription refills; MHN has also provided expressive therapy, psycho-social support, donations of various goods, and even basic nutrition education during those expeditions.

Dr. Gautam intends to relay what he has learned during the conference to fellow medical professionals and others who are interested. He will hold a lecture on various aspects of challenging medical care and the experience he has gained from the international community on the 10thof December in Kathmandu.

MHN teams up with the Wild Medic Project (AUS)

Mountain Heart Nepal joined the Wild Medic team for three days of medical camps in Sindhupalchowk organized with local support of the Mother and Children Arts Foundation.

These young paramedics from Wild Medic Project devote their professional life to helping people and saving lives in Australia. In their spare time, they decide to do it twice over. Sporting a large stock of medication, the team traveled to assess and treat more than 200 people in a three day span. Mountain Heart Nepal was glad to support them with people in the field, a supply of paediatric medication, tooth brushes and referrals for patients that needed further treatment in the hospital.

The Wild Medic Project is nothing short of a noble initiative and MHN is proud to have teamed up with them to make a difference. We – and the communities that they helped- are looking forward to their next visit!
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Medical Camps were conducted in the following locations:

14 October- Kiul VDC 1; Tamang Dodin; Sindhupalchowk

15 October- Kiul VDC 5; Chitre; Sindhupalchowk

16 October- Kiul VDC 6; Thalo; Sindhupalchowk

25th Medical Camp at Kakani VDC 3, Ranipauwa; Nuwakot

MHN conducted its 25th medical camp at Kakani VDC 3, Ranipauwa; Nuwakot on 10 September 2016.

More than 200 patients were consulted and given medicines free of cost. People were screened for Diabetes and Hypertension and children were assessed for malnutrition. MHN also used the opportunity to create awareness on different topics which help people take required measures to protect themselves from preventable diseases.

The event also included a special talk on the “Importance of Nutrition in our daily Life” by RD, Tiffany Batsakis and a Community Music Therapy performance.

We would like to thank Tiffany Batsakis, our anonymous friend and Kunga Gyaltsen for supporting this medical camp.

MHN Nutrition Project in Sindhuli

Poor nutritional status is an alarming public health problem in Nepal. Malnutrition, iron deficiency anemia and other micronutrient deficiency disorders among the children, adolescents and women are some major nutritional health problems prevailing in Nepal (WHO).

This past weekend, Mountain Heart Nepal made a visit to Sindhuli with a new endeavor to help the Nepali people: Nutrition for Nepal. This will be an on-going project by Mountain Heart Nepal and Registered Dietitian, Tiffany Batsakis.

We visited this village during Teej- a festival celebrated by women and it includes a day of fasting. We wanted to be able to do a presentation for a larger group of people coming from diverse background, especially when food was on their mind! Hopefully, they ate a variety of different colored vegetables alongside their dal bhat when they broke the fast!

Blog: More Dal less Bhat! with RD Tiffany Batsakis

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to visit Nepal. I don’t even know what initially piqued my interest, but I knew that one day I had to make the journey. I recently quit my job, sold my home, bought a one way ticket to Asia, and here I am. I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and I know nutritional deficiencies are widespread, not only in Nepal, but in other south East Asian countries, as well. Additionally, child stunting is all too prevalent (current statistics show 41 percent of the children are stunted, indicating chronic under nutrition), and I asked myself what culturally appropriate changes could be made to improve the nutritional status of the people. After all, improved nutrition has a positive impact on overall health and well being.
Prior to my arrival, I did a lot of research on the varied cuisines found in this country. As an RDN, I look at foods with an analytical eye. There are so many healthy components to the Nepali diet. Meals are made twice a day with local, fresh ingredients. A variety of vegetables are served alongside the national dish- “Dal Bhat Tarkari.” Lentils are eaten almost every day, and the country produces some very nutrient dense crops such as mango, papaya, banana, taro leaves, mustard greens, and the list goes on. Additionally, the Nepali government is working to promote certain crops to target some of the nutrient deficiencies found here. Sweet potatoes have been introduced for their high content of Vitamin A, and water spinach (ipomoea aquatica), is high in Vitamins A and C and also contains some iron. Not only are there a lot of healthy foods consumed here, the flavor is amazing! I’ve always loved Indian food, so I was excited to come to Nepal to learn about the similarities in the cuisine. I love all the garlic, hot peppers, chili powder, turmeric, cumin, and coriander that is used. But the list doesn’t end there. Fresh, warm ghee poured atop of fluffy white rice enhances flavor and adds texture, different lentils and beans mixed with various chutneys, pickled fruits and vegetables, and yogurt are some of my favorite snacks found in small cafes and with street vendors. I could go on. And to enhance my taste buds even further, I spent 6 weeks in Mongolia before flying into Kathmandu. While I like eating meat, (the Mongolians eat LOTS) the flavor is lacking. The two most flavorful meals I had there were in Indian restaurants!
You can see my praise for the Nepali diet, but unfortunately, it has some downfalls as well. Most of the population consumes a high staple diet, mainly rice. Staples, especially white rice, fill us with calories, but often lack sufficient nutrients the body needs for optimal functioning. While dal (lentils) are super nutritious and a good source of protein, they are typically served as a side, made into a soup, reducing the overall amount of actual lentils consumed. I always say, “More dal, less bhat!” Let’s switch the ratio. How about a pile of dal and a few spoonfuls of rice? That would significantly increase the nutrient profile of a meal. A cup of cooked lentils provides nearly 20 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber. White rice only provides about 5 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber, not to mention, most of the nutrients have been eliminated during processing.
The rates of protein energy malnutrition and child stunting show many people do not get adequate amounts of protein in their diet. Adding more lentils is a way to help meet protein needs, and chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products, such as milk and yogurt are also helpful. Consuming a wide variety of different colored fruits and vegetables helps us get many of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Luckily, all of these foods are available, especially in Kathmandu.
What will you do to improve your “Dal Bhat Tarkari?” Try my simplified Nepali inspired “Dal Tarkari.” It’s simple, nutritious, and delicious. It’s vegetarian appropriate and even more vegetables can be added if you’d like! Nutrition is important. A healthy meal doesn’t have to be boring or bland. Try some of these foods today and improve your health and well being!

Blog: Lewis and Roshanna Life changing volunteering Experience with MHN

Lewis and I (Roshanna) spent two weeks volunteering with Mountain Heart Nepal in Najing, which is a remote community within the Solukhumbu region of Nepal. We focused our efforts on teaching English in the local school and providing training in nursing skills at the local clinic.

We were welcomed into our host family and they wasted no time in making us feel like family ourselves. The kids were amazing and we also got to share the house with the English teacher of the local school, who was a great help for developing our communication skills in Nepalese! They put in so much effort to make sure we weren’t lacking in anything: we received three meals a day (Radha is an amazing cook!), had a spacious bedroom -that could house four people- available to us to sleep in and there’s nothing like taking a shower with refreshing mountain water. Don’t worry, we could boil the water as well for warm showers or safe drinking. That is, when the electricity was up, from sundown to sunrise. When it comes to power supply; waste not, want not! Because of all the efforts of the people we stayed with, it was comfortable to adapt to less luxury than we are usually used to. You really can’t even think about complaining about an outside toilet when the surrounding hills are so beautiful anyway. So we settled in very easily and were eager to contribute to this warm and welcoming community!

I started my days working in the Community Clinic for a few hours. The clinic opened its doors a year ago and since the nearest hospital is at least a 3 hour trek away, it serves as the central medical hub for the surrounding three villages and their combined population of about 1500 people. The daily running of this clinic falls on the shoulders of three (three!) people: a health assistant who adopts the role of the doctor in the community, a midwife and a general assistant. Officially, the clinic is open 6 days a week from 10 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon, but the reality of the matter is that these people are on call basically 24/7. There is some government funding for the clinic (regarding elderly care and monthly vaccination checkups for mothers and their newborns), but there is a huge need for the community to come together when it comes to the wellbeing of others. For example, there is no ambulance service available and communication channels are very limited, so often people are brought in by family, friends or fellow villagers on makeshift stretchers to make sure they are tended to in the clinic. Regarding any resources or infrastructure beyond that. the clinic can only rely on donations and fundraising from external resources, which are barely enough to get by and not substantial enough to treat every case accordingly.

A variety of patients rely on the clinic and show up when they need help. The staff and community is constantly challenged to come up with resourceful and creative solutions to provide people with the best possible help for their problem, which is essential because of the lack of equipment. For instance, often people come calling with respiratory pathology (COPD, pneumonia, chest infections, etc). The clinic, however, has no modern devices for Sp02-monitoring, oxygen- or nebulisertherapy available, so this does not particularly facilitate diagnosis and treatment. The clinic and community gets by with what they have -sometimes by torchlight if the power cuts out- to treat the wide variety of cases (dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhoea, as well as typhoid, gastroenteritis, head injuries and so on). Additional services rely heavily on fundraising and donations, that are chronically insufficient to provide all of the equipment that is needed. Doing what we could, I was happy that I could identify some problematic areas and help the community in an educational and prevention oriented fashion.

A reassured patient!
I provided teaching on ‘The spread of infection and importance of hand hygiene’, as through my observations I found this very relevant. I made up posters, had them translated and we enjoyed discussing and going over the hand hygiene technique. I also provided basic life support training, from paediatric to adult – choking and CPR. I had to improvise due to there being no resuscitation doll, but felt accomplished and reassured that the staff now know how to deal with these kind of situations. As a backup and a reference, I also provided flowcharts of each scenario. The staff were very happy and appreciative, and teaching this to people who really wanted to learn was a great and fulfilling experience!

I would join Lewis for English classes in the local school after my daily involvement in the clinic to find very welcoming pupils that were so eager to learn! The school (only closed on Saturday) was organised in a way that after the daily national anthem and brain training exercises, the different groups would get taught in 8 lesson periods of 40 minutes each. During the day, each group would also have a free period and we got to work with groups 1 through 8 (ages 5 to 14) during those free periods. The kids were very interested in learning about new things in new ways! We taught greetings, colors, emotions, prepositions, body parts, animals, weather, natural disasters, fruits and vegetables and shapes in our time here. The kids were very excited and the use of songs and games were very appreciated as well as fun!

Class in session!

During our time here we also seen the effects of landslides on the community, and a number of families had to leave their homes and move into emergency housing. Luckily nobody was harmed. Since the earthquake in April 2015, the land has become cracked in many places and when the monsoons come these cracks fill with water, causing devastating landslides. Some of the people who are living down the hill will have to rebuild their homes elsewhere as the land on which they previously resided has become too dangerous. Many others did move back as the situation has become safer, but will likely have to move again when the monsoons come again next year. The only safe option is to relocate and rebuild on new land, but this is often very expensive and many of these people are farmers cannot afford this. The local community rallies together once again and they are collectively working and gathering funds to help in such cases.

The area itself has beautiful views and each walk is an awe-inspiring experience. There is so much nature around you, the air is beyond fresh and there are loads of waterfalls to discover. The locals are always friendly and willing to show you around the breathtaking surroundings.The school even organized a wonderful farewell for us with lots of dancing and an amazing ceremony in which we were decorated with lots of scarves and flowers.

In reflection, we had an amazing experience being part of the community and could see a real spirit of solidarity among its people. We were welcomed into homes and treated as family. If you are looking for a unique volunteering experience in Nepal then we highly recommend going here. We have truly had our hearts warmed by this experience and will keep this with us forever.

MHN receives David Weil Extreme Medicine Bursary

Mountain Heart Nepal is proud to announce that it has been awarded with the ‘David Weil Extreme Medicine Bursary’. This will allow Dr. Aban Gautam President of MHN to attend the 2016 International Extreme Medicine Conference & Expo held in Edinburgh, Scotland (18-21 November). At the conference, he will have a chance to present the work done by Mountain Heart Nepal to a renowned international community of medical professionals involved with healthcare in a variety of remote and austere environments.

Dr. Aban Gautam, president of Mountain Heart Nepal: ‘It is a tremendous honour and privilege to be granted this amazing opportunity. I am very thankful for receiving the David Weil Extreme Medicine Bursary. It is a great acknowledgment and recognition of the humanitarian work we do with Mountain Heart Nepal and all the people involved with the organisation. I am excited to present the projects by MHN together with Dr Hart, but also very eager to learn from the experience of others in the field. I hope to learn a lot from this opportunity and that MHN will be of even better service to the people back home through the knowledge we are able to gather from this amazing opportunity.’

eMore about the 2016 International Extreme Medicine Conference:
http://www.extrememedicineexpo.com/

More about World Extreme Medicine:
http://expeditionmedicine.co.uk/

#extrememedicine #extrememedicineconference