The Nepal Medical Project is a grassroots medical education project focusing on community health and education and empowerment of young women and girls by givening them a foundation to apply and compete for in-country medical training programs. Volunteers hold medical educational classes for community members and coach them through basic clinics to apply skills taught in the courses. The program as well introduces American students to international health disparities and service.
The catchment area served is roughly 50,000 people living in the highlands on the Solukhumbu region of Nepal. This area is currently poorly served by government health centers and is devoid of advanced medical care.
Community health education focuses on early identification and disease prevention. Educating the youth of the communities introduces them to possible health related careers in their futures. This summer the program will also focus on environmental and ecological impacts on health.
A lack of basic health care still currently exists in large parts of rural Nepal. Through the collaboration of Stanford University students and faculty with the local people of the Solukhumbu region of Nepal, this summer’s project endeavored to continue to build an enduring and committed relationship with the communities in this area via small, reproducible health care delivery and medical education programs. By critically analyzing the successes and failures of the past programs, this summer program allowed for new growth and expansion of the educational work. Ultimately, the goal is to create an independent healthcare system - fully staffed, supported, and sustained by the local communities, and integrated into their own national health care system with no need for outside influence or direction.
Lying amid the Himalayan mountain range, Nepal has multiple micro-climates ranging from subtropical in the southern lowlands to bitter cold in its mountain peaks. The specific locale for our involvement in Nepal is the Solukhumbu region lying southwest of Mount Everest. Khamding is the trade center of the region and the location of the educational course component of the project. The small village of Chyangba is the base-camp site from which the survey clinics and the training program are organized.
There are three components of the Nepal Medical Program. The medical component includes establishing temporary clinics in the remote mountainous Solukhumbu region of Nepal. The team conducts clinics with the lone local community health worker surveilling the health of the communities and disease trends. The extreme needs of this region provide students with invaluable experience in developing clinical intuition and resourcefulness. This long-term relationship and commitment have provided an opportunity for interested students to serve in the setting of international health and geographic medicine. The intent of the medical project is to deliver Nepali government sanctioned primary medical care to an area in need, and to combine this with the highest standards of scientific investigation, for the continual health care improvement and independence of the local communities.
The other components are educational in nature and the primary long-term benefit to the people of the region. While the project falls into the realm of preventative medicine, it has provided interested students with a course curriculum at Stanford, focusing on rural medicine and the challenges involved with international healthcare. Most importantly, it facilitates the training of community health volunteers in Nepal to care for their own communities.
Several development projects have been established to serve the community, including rainwater catch stations, an educational course curriculum for community health volunteers, and a focus on "ownership" of the project amongst the villagers. The community health volunteer training program attracts individuals from multiple surrounding communities to take part in a medical education program focusing on preventive health and early medical identification while giving the participants practical skills to deal with those maladies. This provides a wealth of otherwise unavailable educational opportunities for all its participants.