VOSH SOUTHEAST MISSION TO NEPAL
GHAT, SOLUKHUMBU DISTRICT, NEPAL
OCTOBER 27-31, 2014
In a small remote mountainous village of Ghat, against a backdrop of snow-covered Himalayan peaks, our team of optometrists and volunteers set up an eye clinic to provide primary eye care to the underserved local Sherpa community. Due to the rugged nature of the local terrain and foot-only travel between the villages scattered throughout mountainous countryside, healthcare and eye care services are not easily accessible to the people living in Nepal’s Himalaya. During the last week of October of 2014, our team set up a five-day clinic in a local school to service the eye care needs of almost 2000 patients. The clinic was organized into multiple stations including registration, visual acuities, refraction, blood pressure and glucose testing, disease and glasses dispensing. We have dispensed approximately 1500 pair of glasses. Additionally, we had identified several cases of glaucoma and cataracts and have arranged for these patients to receive surgeries as needed in Kathmandu. Overall, we have found this community to have fairly good eye health; however, the lack of sustainable healthcare infrastructure in the area does not allow those with eye problems to receive the medical attention that they need.
Our team consisted of 21 VOSH Southeast members (10 optometrists, 1 optometry student and 10 lay volunteers) as well as 4 optometrists representing the Nepalese Association of Optometrists. We were also fortunate to have been able to recruit assistance of some of the English-speaking locals to help with translation and facilitate the process.
We would like to acknowledge the Nepalese Association of Optometrists and the four doctors that joined us on our mission. Special thanks to Susan Colman for being our liaison with the local community and using her local connections to work out the organizational logistics of where and when the clinic was to be set up, where the volunteers lived, etc. Also, our gratitude extends to our kind and welcoming Sherpa hosts – Jangbu and Angdali Sherpa who hosted us in their lodges, helped us to organize and communicate with the local community, introduced us to the local customs, fed us delicious food and endless cups of hot tea Finally, we are very grateful for the kind support and financial contributions from the following individuals, corporations and organizations: Allergan, Inc.; Bausch + Lomb; Allina Health, Restoringvision.org; National Vision; VOSH-southeast as well as many other generous individual contributors.
While in the region, we have looked into the existing healthcare infrastructure. We have discovered a well-maintained hospital facility right in the town of Lukla, which is the gateway town for the higher Himalayan villages that extend all the way towards Everest Base Camp. This hospital already has a dedicated optometrist office with some of the necessary optometry equipment. Looking towards the future, it is our hopes to continue working with this hospital, the local community and the Nepalese Association of Optometrists to establish a sustainability program to enable the local community to establish and maintain its own system of eye care provision with our support.
VOSH Southeast, USA
Nepalese Association of Optometrists, Kathmandu, Nepal
Chaurikharka Buffer Zone Forest Consumer Group, Ghat
Dr. John Spencer, Optometrist (Clinic Director and Mission Co-Leader)
Suzi Colman (Mission Co-Leader)
Dr. Danny Walker, Optometrist
Dr. Quy Nguyen, Optometrist
Dr. Rosina Cheung, Optometrist
Dr. Ekaterina Medina, Optometrist
Dr. Miranda Lee, Optometrist
Dr. Hunter Hill, Optometrist
Dr. Sylvia Pellini, Optometrist
Dr. Jamie Costello, Optometrist
Dr. Robin Hamm-Lavalley, Optometrist
Talisa Dennis, Optometry student
Dr. Subodh Gnyawali
Dr. Sudan Puri
Dr. Safal Khanal
Dr. Gaurish Shrestha