Saturday, January 7, 2012

Life in Kathmandu

We've been in Kathmandu for about five days now, and the days we've spent here have been absolutely wonderful. On the 3rd (the day after we arrived), we had our meeting with Mr. Kul Chandra Gautam.  Since he has served as the Deputive Executive Director of Unicef in the past, and is a very renowned personnel in Nepal and elsewhere, we were  excited to meet him. He is also the founder of Nepal Public Health Foundation, and he gave our group a general overview of some of the problems in public health relevant to Nepal. He gave us an  idea of where Nepal stands in terms of public health, what are some of the issues that are understudied, and how it has been progressing compared to the past.From what he said, it seemed that Nepal is doing progress in many issues that were seen before, like availability of basic health care facilities, and nutrition related problems. However, he also pointed out that issues like child bearing behavior and women status in Nepal need to further improved in order to uplift the overall public health status. The conversation we had with him was a very good transition for us from what we have learnt about Nepal's health related issues when we were in the US and what we will be doing for the next few weeks while we are here. Dr. Gautam was a very decent and nice man to talk to and we were really glad that we got to meet him. His insights were definitely very valuable for us, and will be considered while we work on our project further.
Besides the meeting with Mr. Gautam, we also have been touring different hospitals in the valley. We went to some of the big and central hospitals in the nation like Bir hospital and Paropakar Maternity hospital in Kathmandu, Patan Academy of medical sciences and Patan hospital in Lalitpur district, Siddhi Memorial Hospital in Bhaktapur district, and Scheer memorial Hospital in Kavre district.  These hospitals are the biggest ones in the valley providing services to the people in large numbers. Among these hospitals, Bir hospital and Paropakar Maternity hospital  are  national hospitals run entirely by the government, Patan hospital is a mission hospital on a semi-government level, Siddhi Memorial hospital is a private hospital, and Scheer Memorial is a mission hospital. Touring these hospitals and understanding how they operate were very interesting for us. Especially for a group like us who are trying to work for the upliftment of health care in rural Nepal, understanding the current condition of health care and facilities prevelant here were a good insight we could have had before we begin our research and survey on public health via our medical camp.
Apart from the hospital visits and meetings, our time in Kathmandu has been a lot of fun. Walking around Kathmandu, especially the Thamel area  and touring to beautiful places like  Swayambhu have been a wonderful part of our time here and we have absolutely loved it. Whether it is the waking up at 6 am because of the dog fight on the corner of the street or walking up to the height of Swayambhunath admiring cute little monkeys on the way,we are always admiring whatever we see, and i personally have loved being here so far. Even though it's been just 5 days we've been here, we already have been a part of the crowd in the streets of Kathmandu.Tomorrow morning ( on the 8th), we are leaving for our medical camp in the village of Naldum. We are all very excited to get there and finally work on the medical camp and our research.
 I will be writing more about our trip on the next blog to update about our adventure, for now it is time to stop and prepare for tomorrow. Namaste!
-Arati Pudasaini

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