Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last Minute Preparations

It's always difficult to decide what you absolutely need to survive for three weeks. Giant stuffed monkey? First to go. Long underwear? Most of my backpack. We also will have a good share of over the counter medications that can be needed on a trip like this. I had many people tell me about the importance of bringing anti-diarrheal tablets, which makes me worry a little bit. I absolutely, positively can't wait to get going on this trip. I always pray that I'll have patience when things change, and they will. I'm so proud to be a part of this trip and the good work we're going over to Nepal to conduct. One more day, everyone. It's time to enjoy everything you love about the United States before we're just eating lentils and rice. Next time, we'll be talking to you from Nepal!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finalized(ish) plan

As with any service trip, there are many unforeseen changes that occur out of the blue and require patience, however, we have a tentative schedule of what we'll be doing most days up to the point when Professor Vose leaves on January.

Project Schedule:
Dec. 31, 2011: Departure from Dulles International Airport
Jan. 2, 2012: Arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal
Jan. 2-5: in Kathmandu, at International Guest House (
    Jan. 3: Group meeting with Kul Gautam - meeting at U.S. Embassy
    Jan. 4: Visit Patan Medical Sciences Academy and Patan Hospital
    Jan. 5: Visit Paropakar National Maternity Hospital and Bir Hospital
Jan. 6-7: in Banepa/Dhulikhel
    Jan. 6: Visit Kathmandu University Medical Sciences and Scheer Memorial Hospital
    Jan. 7: Visit Bhaktapur
Jan. 8-12: Health clinic in Naldum
Jan. 12: Return to Dhulikhel
Jan. 13: Return to Kathmandu, International Guest House (
Jan. 14: Prof. Vose departs Kathmandu, Nepal; official W&M project concludes
Jan. 14-18: Swastha Nepal student project


P.S. 10 days to go!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Excited and a bit nervous

I cannot believe this is actually happening. We will be going to Nepal to conduct a five days medical camp by the end of this month. We will also be gathering research data, at the community level, to improve the health care for marginalized group.  I am so proud of all our team members including our faculty mentors ( Dr. Kevin Vose, Dr. Ken Kambis and Dr. Eric Jensen)who have associated themselves with Swastha Nepal and worked so hard to make this reality. Without each members’ contribution, this trip would have been still been a dream.

I am excited and a bit nervous to undertake this project. Excited because this is our first trip and nervous because I don’t know what impression will my colleagues are going to get after seeing Nepal and analyzing Nepalese health care system.  In Nepal, it is not uncommon to see how the majority of people walking at least couple of hours if not few days, to get to a basic medical care, to see how superstition and traditional beliefs are still rooted in people’s minds and souls, and how many people would have never seen a hospital.

Professor Vose and Professor Kambis’s independent study courses has not only prepared us to undertake this trip along with the research work but also has urged us to seek medical practice within its larger social context.

This trip will actively foster the pursuit of complex intersections between medicine and other academic fields. Furthermore, it will help us to broaden our horizons and help us to examine society from different perspectives. It will be neat to find out practically how globalization has penetrated all aspects of human existence including medicine. Of all I am super excited to be able to see the various diseases through the medical camp. I am equally excited to be able to work alongside colleagues who are trained in a very different health care system.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Research Methods

The main goal of the project during this trip is to gather as much data as possible about the Nepealese  public health system. We've proposed two surveys to help us obtain the most information that we can while we're there, which have been approved by the Protection of Human Subjects Committee. During the first survey, after an adult member representing a family has given informed consent, the researcher will ask the representative to give to names and genders of occupants in his or her household. Then as the medical examination continues, the doctor will record the treatments and diagnoses given to each member of the family. This is important to our research because it'll be the best way to look at diseases in the area. It also helps us be more informed about which medicines to supply.
The second study will examine general local beliefs about health and what is causing illness in their community. Our questions are:
  1. Number of adults in household:
  2. Number of children in household:
  3.  Have you been to a doctor before? When? Where?
  4.  What are common illnesses? What illnesses are dangerous?
  5. What are possible health concerns (i.e. infant mortality)?
  6. What causes illness (either directly or indirectly, spiritual explanations as well)?
  7. How can good health be achieved and maintained?
  8. What in the community contributes to poor health (i.e. no clean water available)?
  9. What changes would improve your life (i.e. improvements in sanitation, greater access to medicine)?
  10. What are your greatest concerns or worries (i.e. not having enough food)?
  11. What illnesses are you most concerned about contracting? What illnesses do you expect you or your children to contract?
  12.  What do you eat in a typical day? Your children?
  13.  Do pregnant women have a different diet? What do they typically eat?
  14.  How often do you eat grains? Meat? Dairy? Fruits? Vegetables?
  15. What is done when someone is sick?
  16. How was your medical visit today? What would you do to change the structure of this clinic in the future?
  17. What diagnosis and treatment did you receive? Do you think that the diagnosis is correct? What concerns do you have about fulfilling the treatment?
By combining the results from these two surveys, we can then have informed decisions to determine what the focus of the trip will be on later trips. This data is going to be the main driving force for our project because it's going to reveal where the real problems are that need change. As the years progress, this trip will focus on "trouble areas." We will then launching worthwhile programs in conjuguction with the community in order to fight these issues.


Less than a month!

It’s a very surreal feeling to think that in less than a month we’ll be in the teeming streets of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. For 20 days (from December 31st to January 20th), as team of 6 students and 1 professor, we will be helping provide medical services to villagers in rural Nepal with a team of doctors, ophthalmologists, and dentists from Scheer Memorial Hospital ( in Banepa (see map). The students will be conducting research at the same time into public health in the area through a survey. We hope to get a good look at gaps in public health, as well as perceptions about what causes illness and how one can remain well. Conducting a study like this is definitely daunting but very necessary in order to gauge what the community actually needs, which will guide trips in the future.

We’ll also get to meet Kul Gautam, who served as Assistant Secretary General of the UN and Deputy Director of UNICEF ( We’re really excited to meet such an important man who has such great ideas relating to the main focus of our trip. We’ll definitely take his suggestions seriously when we’re collecting our data. It would very useful to have great advice for our future projects and what work and what won't. 

I can't express how excited and anxious I am about going on this trip! I can't even imagine what I'll see! I think that I will be in this state of anxiety until all of us are on the plane ride home.