Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Trip

After hours of travel, and months of planning, the Tufts Globemed Team has finally arrived in Achham, Nepal. We arrived in the middle of the night last night, and have already been busy at work for our first day.

To get to Achham, we first had to take a plane from Kathmandu to Dhangadi which is the closest airport to Achham. We were flying Yeti Air, one of two local airlines that send flights out to Dhangadi.  The plane was a small one with only 30 seats, and propellers. The first plane we boarded had technical difficulties so we had to switch, but it only took them a few minutes to move our luggage over and we were on our way.

The plane ride was a little bumpy owing to the fact that the plane was just so small. There were some refreshments on the flight- soda, water, peanuts, etc… that were distributed by the one flight attendant. Soon after getting to the top of the cloud level, we looked out our window and saw to the north, the tips of mountains passing through the clouds. There are some pictures below but they do not capture just how incredible it was to see something so large and tall. After about an hour we landed in Dhangadi.

View of a mountain out of the plane window
Dhangadi was a small one room airport that luckily had a paved runway which was nice. We walked off the plane and through a gate to the front of the building where our luggage was dropped off on a hand cart. After waiting for a few minutes, the jeep arrived and we started our long drive.

We drove out to Achham with Ranju, who used to run the community health worker program for Nyaya. She went to Mount Holyoke for her undergrad, before coming back to Nepal where she grew up. She was great company on the trip that ended up lasting about 9 hours of straight driving.

The road started out pretty smooth, but before long we were driving up a twisting mountain road filled with sharp turns and steep slopes. Fortunately, most of the road was paved so while it was a bumpy ride, it could have been much worse. We left at about 3:30 and we did not arrive at the hospital until around 12:30 at night. Our driver was great, and managed to get us there in better time than most trips. We pulled into the hospital and were greeted by some of the other staff and interns here before being led to our rooms.

Typical view from our jeep window
This morning we woke up for a breakfast of chapatti, and some kind of aloo. We then joined Sindhya, the Tufts medical student who is also on this trip with us, to go to a morning update meeting with the hospital staff. She arrived here about a week ago (and her jeep ride took 13 hours!). After the update meeting we sat in on the daily lecture given by Dr. Payel, the hospital’s medical director. She gave a presentation to the health workers who provide most of the treatments here about the identifying signs and best treatment methods for COPD. We then joined her on rounds of the inpatient ward.

After rounds we came to the Community Health office where we have been working for the rest of the day. Today, Laura and I worked to get acclimated with the data sets available and the projects we are going to be working on for the next couple weeks. Some of those projects include an audit of the community health worker program, a cellphone project to replace current CHW data collection techniques, and a few protocols for community health workers.

The hospital has been great so far. It is extremely hot out, so it is not too much fun to walk around outside- we’ve been staying inside for the most part. The hospital is also alive with activity right now due to the VIPs that are coming next week. All of the buildings are being repainted, the windows are all being replaced, and the entire hospital is being beautified as well. It is an extremely exciting time at Bayalpata.

We hope to continue to send all of you updates as long as we have an internet connection. Also, if you look above, there is a link that says questions. It will bring you to a form where you can submit a question for us to answer. Ask us anything about Nyaya, the hospital, our experiences, etc… and we will do what we can to answer them as soon as we can.

A picture of the hospital

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