Life and Physiotherapy in Nepal
Having recently returned from nearly 5 months in Nepal, I am delighted to share some of my experiences with you all. Nepal may be one of the poorest countries in the world but it is definitely rich in beauty, culture and traditions. During my time there I explored the Himalayas and local culture, taught Pilates and participated in some Physio related activities. I was mainly based in a small town called Dhulikhel, about 30 km outside of Kathmandu. Dhulikhel is home to Dhulikhel Hospital, a community hospital that provides health services to the poor and underprivileged in the surrounding area. My regular Pelvic Floor /Pilates based exercise classes were popular among both the medical and physio staff here. Interestingly, this hospital is affiliated to Kathmandu University and operates the only Bachelor of Physio program in Nepal. It also has 20 outreach centres that are regularly serviced by medical teams (including physiotherapy). I made a trip to one of these centres.
As you can imagine Physiotherapy is a much needed profession in Nepal, across all areas due to the lifestyle and physically challenging work people have to do. Women’s health issues are an area of interest of mine and this is a widespread problem across Nepal. Uterine Prolapse (UP) is a particular problem negatively affecting women’s health and quality of life. UP occurs when pelvic floor muscles and ligaments stretch and weaken, providing inadequate support for the uterus. It has been estimated that approximately 600,000 women across the country suffer from this condition, with around 200,000 requiring surgical intervention.
Vrienden van Amppial is a Dutch NGO participating in the fight against Uterine Prolapse in Nepal. One of its current projects involves conducting Surgical/ gynaecological screening/ pelvic floor physiotherapy, education/community awareness camps as well as training of local physiotherapists and health professionals. They held one such camp in Besisahar in the heart of the famous Annapurna region. I was fortunate to be part of the physiotherapy team. The week-long camp kicked off with an Official Opening attended by local dignitaries, hospital staff as well as many members of the local community. Our role as Physios included outpatient department duties, pre and post op inpatient management, post natal inpatient care as well as health promotion and community awareness.
Of course a trip to Nepal would not be complete without some form of trekking! For my first experience of serious trekking, the Himalayas were not a bad place to start. The first trek in October was through the beautiful Langtang, Tsergo Ri and Gosaikunda regions involving climbing to 4800m (twice!) a great achievement! Before returning home to Australia we managed to squeeze in a quick four day trek through the Poonhill region, part of the famous Annapurna Base Camp. While both were scenically very different they were equally magnificent in their views. I have now been well and truly bitten by the trekking bug!
Every day in Nepal was a cultural adventure and to have had the experience of living among such kind and welcoming people was one I will always treasure. Below is a link to the Vrienden van Amppipal website and for those who would like to help Physiotherapy in Nepal, we have set up a PayPal account where you can make a donation. Money raised will be used to purchase essential equipment, train staff and set-up awareness campaigns in the community.
(You probably have to copy this link and paste it in your browser. You don’t need to have a PayPal account - go to the webpage above and press ‘Continue’ at the bottom of that screen (just left to the log-in box).
Please note, there is a 30c flat fee per transaction, and a 2.9% credit card/PayPal charge, so of your total donation, 97.1% minus 30c will go directly to the development of Physiotherapy in Nepal.