Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Crowd Funding meets Healthcare

Nyaya Health operates under the belief that health is a human right. Nyaya Health has gone to great lengths to ensure that the people of Achham can enjoy that right, primarily through its public-private hospital. Although the hospital is an important step to providing health services to an underserved population, there are many services the hospital cannot yet provide, such as complex surgical services. We hope that Bayalpata Hospital will one day be able to expand its surgical services, but currently patients that cannot be treated at the hospital are referred to other facilities.

Due to the costs of travel, treatment, and multi-day or even multi-week stays at the referral facilities, many patients do not continue with treatment after being referred. Over the past year, Bayalpata Hospital has been working to overcome this challenge by experiment with an innovative strategy designed by Watsi, a nonprofit organization that aims to expand access to low-cost and high-impact interventions.

Watsi is an online crowd funding platform ( A picture of the patient in need is posted to their site, along with the cost of their treatment (there is a maximum limit of 1500 USD) and a Donate button that allows visitors to donate as little as 5 dollars.

Nyaya Health has been one of Watsi’s first partners and the program has been an important addition to Bayalpata Hospital’s services. Over the past 12 months, over 50 patients at Bayalpata Hospital have received essential surgical treatment they would otherwise have not been able to obtain.

The Watsi partnership does more than just provide funding. It also provides patients with emotional support. Many of the patients that have participated in the program thus far have had to travel to Kathmandu, an urban environment they are usually not familiar with. Many patients also harbor misconceptions regarding their treatment options and do not feel comfortable going through the process alone. Bayalpata Hospital has put together an accompaniment team to be a pillar of support for patients and their families.

Watsi will not be able to replace the need for improved onsite surgical capabilities, but it does help bridge the gap between access in remote and poor communities and the rest of the world.


  1. Hi Alon, I enjoyed reading your post about crowdfunding. I think this is one of the most important and awesome developments in fundraising. There are so many sites like Watsi these days, but it is compelling to hear the stories of how the site was able to help get treatment for that many patients! Not only is it convenient for the recipients, I think it also gives donors a sense of autonomy and understanding about where their money is going and what it's being used for. Thanks for posting and I look forward to reading more! --Emily (GlobeMed at Duke)

    1. Hi Emily, thanks for your comment!
      I completely agree with you comment regarding the autonomy and transparency Watsi gives donors. I believe it also generates a sense of solidarity and communal responsibility.
      We are currently working on a paper that details Nyaya Health's experience with Watsi over the past year. Keep an eye out!