Mountain Heart Nepal

MHN Project in Mountain Region: Some elaboration by Jens Huylebroeck

This article was published on: 01/13/17 10:32 PM

MHN Project in Mountain Region: Some elaboration by Jens Huylebroeck

Mountain Heart Nepal (MHN) is an NGO that was formed after the devastating earthquake hit Nepal in April 2015. A number of young doctors and other medical staff came together to try and make an active difference by turning their attention towards delivering free of charge medical aid to villages and communities that lack regular access to medical care. Following its initial purpose, which was largely focused on disaster relief, the organisation has branched out. They reach out to local community leaders to help identify the health issues present in that region and proceed to organize medical camps where those are most needed and the biggest improvements can be made. The community leaders are asked to act as a connection between the organisation and the people, with a purpose to inform as many as possible of the location and timing of the medical camp that is to be organised. People often have to travel several hours to even get to these temporary clinics and do so in great numbers, simply because there is no other option available in the area and travelling to a city is either too expensive or made impossible due to difficult terrain, weather and/or health conditions.

The medical camps by Mountain Heart Nepal have proven too much long for the initiative. During its first year of existence, MHN was able to reach out to more than 16.000 people through no less than 24 of these expeditions to various regions across the country. The people involved with the NGO graciously commit themselves free of charge for the fieldwork they do. Sadly, all the material needed for their work does not simply come falling from the sky. The international community made sure that funds were made available directly after the earthquake in 2015, but since then, that river of support has trickled down to a small creek. Meanwhile, the situation of Nepal and its inhabitants could still do with tons of improvements when it comes to medical attention.

Mountain Heart Nepal has therefore seen the value in cooperating with other organisations in order to efficiently attribute its revenue, mostly received through its own fundraising initiatives or donations. I am writing this entry to encourage people to support one of the latest projects being undertaken by MHN in Dhudkunda, Najing, Solukhumbu because this project aims to make a world of difference for thousands of people.
Why Solukhumbu?

Dhudhkunda, Najing is a very remote village in the Solukhumbu region in northeast Nepal, the same region where you might find the roof of the world. It remains a largely secluded community since Najing is not located along the popular trekking trails along with Mount Everest. Recently the first two international volunteers (ever) reached Najing and they were able to identify the problems and challenges of the community, which they have now reported back to Mountain Heart Nepal. And when it comes to medical care in Najing, it appears there is still quite a mountain to climb.

Isolated is certainly a word aptly used when describing the community of Najing. One is easily looking at several hours of travel before coming across another settlement, which means Najing mainly needs to rely on itself concerning everyday issues and its general wellbeing.

There is one small local clinic located in the village, which also provides healthcare for the two smaller neighbouring settlements. All in all, a total of about 1500 people rely on this medical centre for all their health-related concerns. For a lot of the inhabitants, it is often already required to spend some time travelling to get to this centre, of which the staff is made up of only three medical professionals. Though these three have official working hours, the reality of the matter is that they are on call 24/7 to answer the needs of the community. There is simply no one else. A registered health assistant is a go-to source for treatment, assisted by a midwife and a general assistant. A doctor is nowhere near to be found, but these people are resolved to make due with what they have.

Touching on what the clinic has available to them in regard to resources: we are talking about a small building, barely able to fit a few people – as long as some of them are willing and able to stand. Hospital beds are a luxury unknown to the centre, people that present themselves with health issues need to find their comfort on a floor mat in a best-case scenario. Stretchers are nowhere to be found and there is a very limited supply of medication to go around. And this system has proven to be more than paramount to provide even the most basic of services because reaching the next somewhat better equipped medical outpost would easily demand three hours of travel from the fittest among us. It’s hardly possible to come down the trail with a vehicle, much less to be evacuated by an aircraft. People are looking at a journey by foot (or carried on a makeshift stretcher) through an awe-inspiring yet unforgiving landscape, which will only put a further strain on their already impeded health. Recent landslides, caused by the earthquake and the following monsoon, have made this descent even more challenging. Some roads have simply vanished from the maps.

The project

This brave community is largely left to fend for itself and relies on this one medical facility in Najing. A facility gravely lacking in resources, material and infrastructure. That’s where we come in. And that’s also where you come in. It’s because of the unique problems this community is faced with, that Mountain Heart Nepal wants to engage itself to better equip the clinic in Najing, upon which thousands rely. We have made an evaluation of what we believe to be most needed and we are looking to raise funds, through your goodwill and other means, to provide the tools essential for improving health care in Najing. This is not a selection made haphazardly: we were lucky to have Roshanna visit Najing as a certified and experienced nurse. Trusting in her expertise, we were able to compose a list of what to prioritize. We hope to make it to the end of the list, but that can only happen with your support. So here’s a warm call for help. And for your assurance, here is exactly how your pennies would be spent.

Should we raise 1750 euro, we can supply the following:

  • A couple of beds

    We would love to see people struggling with their health at least enjoy some basic comfort while they try to recover. Laying on the floor doesn’t help with the predicament they are in, nor does it facilitate the work of the staff tending to them.

  • Oxygen Concentrator

    Eureka, Najing can finally rely on a somewhat steady source of electricity. A lot of the people that present themselves at the clinic often suffer from some sort of respiratory condition. Alas, there is no way to provide them with oxygen therapy as of yet. We want to provide an Oxygen Concentrator that operates without the use of bottles and containers since it is hardly an option to travel from and to the village for a refill on these cumbersome containers.

  • Sp02 monitor

    This is a very basic tool to determine how saturated (oxygen level) someone is. It is not at all expensive, yet there are none available at the time. However, it is an essential tool to draw the correct parameters and thus determine treatment. Providing this would greatly help the staff in their choice of treatment, of course, benefits the patient in the end.

  • Suturing set

    Few among you reading this will have never gotten a wound sutured. Be it clumsy behaviour or another cause, everyone will probably get some stitches during their lifetime. Sadly and once again, Najing does not have the correct instruments to skillfully close even the smallest of wounds. By providing the tools to treat these daily wounds accordingly, we hope to see a huge drop in infected wounds.

  • Otoscope

    The basic tool to examine the inside of the ear! Routinely used in every medical checkup on the planet, not present in Najing. And it’s not only used in routine examinations but it is also quite essential to further investigate any issue related an ear. Very needed!

  • Electric Needle Destroyer

    Just collecting used needles does not come across as a good option for us. There is no service to collect these and making the trip over and over again to dispose of them would be utter madness. But with kids playing and people unaware of the risks of infection presented by needles, there is no option to leave them lying around. An electric needle disposer would make sure that needles are taken care of in a safe way.

Should we raise 2750 euro, we intend to provide:

  • All of the above!
  • An incubator for newborns

    Child mortality rate remains high in Nepal. By installing an incubator for newborns in Najing, we want to give innocent new souls a better fighting chance to be a part of our world.

  • Scooping stretcher

    The closest thing to a stretcher in Najing is currently what people come up with on the spot to transport one of their own, most of the time involving the creative use of branches with pieces of cloth in between them. Many of the inhabitant’s practice professions that can put them at risk of getting physically harmed and by providing a scooping stretcher, we want to make sure people don’t suffer further injuries to their spine or nervous system by being displaced in an inappropriate way.

  • Autoclave/Steambased Sterilisation Station

    In order to render certain material sterile before using it on the next patient, staff in Najing can presently only go as far as throwing it into a kettle of boiling water. By providing a decent way to clean the material more effectively, the risk of infection will once more go down. This is an expensive tool, so we are hoping for substantial donations before we can dream of installing one of these in Najing.

  • Nebulisertherapy

    Once again an attempt to tackle the frequently seen issues of respiratory distress in Najing. Especially young children benefit from this device since its primary function is to provide medication far more effectively, in a much less invasive fashion.

  • Basic Life Support training for one resident

    The staff involved with the clinic are often only there for a few months at a time. The Nepalese government has devised a system that provides financial support to students willing to travel to these remote regions for their internships. So the medical staff responsible for thousands is often still in training and might not be fully equipped or capable to deal with all sorts of pathology, especially in a critical situation. That’s why we want to bring one of the permanent residents of Najing to the capital of Kathmandu for a week. That way he or she can take a course on Basic Life Support. that way, it is ensured that there will always be someone in Najing able to assist the staff in savi a life and operating the tools (hopefully) present through your donations. We intend to keep the costs for transport, training, sustenance and stay to a minimum, but sadly the course -taught by a third party- never comes for free.

We want to set our sights on a realistic goal, but if we are allowed to dream big and should we pass the 2750 euro mark, we intend to invest the surplus funds as follows:

  • All of the above
  • Obstetric bed
  • Thermometers
  • IV-holders
  • Scale for tracking weight on infants
  • Electric blood pressure meter
  • Medication!: the community easily pays up to 3500 euro on a yearly basis to supply themselves with the bare essentials. We would want to chip in.


Report from Jan 2017

The start of the New Year brings new hopes and dreams with it, so Mountain Heart Nepal got going as well and we held our first medical camp of 2017 in Dudhkunda-9, Najing, Solukhumbu on January 14. Our journey to Najing marks the 29th medical camp held by MHN and more than 200 patients were diagnosed and provided with medication free of cost. We also took the opportunity to bring the first phase of our infrastructure project in Najing to completion by donating a substantial supply of medical equipment to the local health clinic. We would like to extend a big “thank you” to Lewis Duguid, Roshanna Bain, Jens Huylebrobroeck for fundraising to support for medical equipment and medicines. Also, many thanks to Rebuild Nepal for contributing 500 AUD and to all the donors and supporters from around the world who donated in our online fundraising platform (3,525 USD) for the Najing Project.