Dr Lalit goes back to his district with UK elective student
We are incredibly pleased to announce that Lalit – our first DFN doctor, has secured himself another year in the very isolated district of Kalikot. The longer he is able to work there, the bigger the impact he will have on his community.
Medical student Louis, from the UK, has just arrived there on his elective placement, and will be spending a month under Lalit’s supervision to learn about healthcare in remote Nepal. Here are his first impressions:
“Getting up to Kalikot Distirict Hospital (KDH) takes a two day single track road trip up from Nepalgunj & during rainy season there are many landslides to navigate your way through or around. For the more adventurous you can take one of the public buses, but considering me and the other passengers in our 4×4 had to pull it through the mud on the last ascent to the town I was grateful for the relative luxury of a smaller and more sturdy vehicle. Any complex medical cases that can’t be dealt with here have to be referred to he nearest town, Surkhet, about 10 hours to the South. Considering if a patient will even survive the journey is a big question, but often the road down is the only option to get treatment.
The level of poverty is quite stark, even compared to other areas in Nepal. A lot of families live off what they can produce themselves or trade with other locals (& what they produce is very tasty I can tell you). Many basic drugs are supplied by the government for free but other drugs are supplied at cost to the patients, which can be frustrating for staff, patients and their relatives. There is an old ultrasound machine that is utilized well but unfortunately the portable rickety X-Ray machine isn’t functioning and seems to be on it’s last legs – the mechanic from Kathmandu has come to repair it but it doesn’t look hopeful. This not only limits the doctors diagnostic abilities but means a long and arduous trip for anyone requiring any X-Ray imaging. With many patients being carried in by relatives, sometimes from many hours walk away, you can start to imagine the difficulties of providing healthcare in this kind of environment.
Despite having good mobile phone coverage & wifi internet the whole town relies on solar power since the electrical cabling supplying power was lost in a landslide two months before I arrived. Most houses have makeshift battery storage systems so that lighting etc can be maintained at night.
Having very little Nepali under my belt before I came was something I was a little concerned about, but the doctors speak a good level of English as their entire medical education is all in English. Thanks to the great people I’ve met & my amaa (grandma) who is cooking for me, I am making new friends and exploring a completely new environment. But having to experience healthcare here brings home to me the purpose of my visit & this is su
rely not an experience I will ever forget & one that I hope can lead to an exchange of ideas to improve practice in the UK & in Nepal. “