Why a Mobile Hospital ?
Health and education are two essential factors for development. Given the geographical situation of Nepal at the heart of the Himalayas, access to health and education remains very difficult. Today Kathmandu and the large towns in the South (Terai plain) have a certain number of facilities in these areas. But the remote and very poor regions in the mountains remain disadvantaged; there are few tracks and roads, or none at all, and those that exist are in a very bad state or unusable, due to the monsoon rains which fall during the summer months.
Since 2000, Doctor Pierre Soete, an orthopaedic surgeon and traumatologist, has been personally involved in a voluntary capacity in the development of an orthopaedic hospital in Kathmandu (construction of the hospital and training of surgeons). This hospital, whose staff is entirely Nepali, is today financially autonomous. In the framework of the hospital’s activities, he has organized, on several occasions and with the help of a Nepalese doctor, Dr Mingmar Gyalzen Sherpa, « orthopaedic camps » in the remote regions of Nepal and has thus been able to realize the lack of access of these poor populations to specialized health care. Patients sometimes have to walk for more than 5 days to get to Small health centers of small hospitals which usually only have one health worker, a nurse or at best a general practitioner. Moreover, it is impossible for them financially to travel to the capital or the big towns in Southern Nepal to get specialized treatment. Nonetheless, health and education remain two factors essential for a country’s development.
Tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, osteomyelitis, prolapsed uterus and many other diseases are directly related to poverty. 37% of the population is under 14. Today, 3.5% of children die before the age of 1. Many of the children examined suffer the consequences of fractures or burns. National statistics show that 10-12% of the population is affected by one or other of these illnesses or physical handicaps. Most of the hospitals and medical specialists are located in the big towns. Kathmandu has one doctor for every 850 inhabitants, and in the remote regions the figure is one doctor for every 145,000 inhabitants.
It was in 2009 that we started to give these remote regions access to general medicine and quality specialized medicine through the creation of a Mobile Hospital. Thanks to a subsidy of 120,000 euros from the Belgian Ministry of Cooperation, we were able to buy the equipment necessary to get our action underway.