Himalayan Medical Foundation
In this article, Dr. Gregory Rabold, Himalayan Medical Foundation’s Founder and Medical Director describe what it’s like on the ground.
The Himalayan Medical Foundation (HMF) along with another NGO – Adara, responded to the catastrophe by combining their teams of medical doctors, health assistants, nurses and volunteers by springing into action. The team set up emergency medical facilities in the areas of Kathmandu most severely affected by the earthquake.
During the first two weeks after the intial earthquake, the team moved to a new location each day, setting up tents and shelters aided by volunteer monks from the Benchen Gompa and providing urgently needed medical care to all who needed our help, treating over several thousand Nepalis. On May 11th the HMF reopened its seven clinics, which have now resumed functioning on a regular schedule. We are fortunate that only one of our seven clinics sustained any significant damage from the earthquake.Hundreds of thousands of Nepalis have fled from Kathmandu for the countryside and their ancestral villages. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Kathmandu residents are still homeless and are living outdoors in tents or under tarps, exposed to the elements and the unseasonably wet and cool weather. They are suffering from lack of drinkable water, sufficient food, adequate waste disposal facilities and the ability to maintain personal hygiene. International Aid Groups have been frustrated by the Nepali Government’s system of excessive red tape, taxation on all donated supplies, as well as antiquated processing of inventories of arriving aid.
The HMF has been in Nepal for 23 years and has learned how to circumvent Government bureaucracy and thus has been able to run its clinics without delays or holdups. We also have exceptionally low administrative overhead costs so that over 95% of all funds go directly to our clinics and patients.
But how did we get here? In 1990, after having lived in Boulder, CO for 15 years and studying with the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, I set out on a new adventure and moved to Kathmandu to take on the role as the Medical Director of Peace Corps Nepal.I was often asked to help out with medically related problems at the different Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries in the Kathmandu valley and had to deal at times with full-blown epidemics of tuberculosis, meningitis, dysentery, or scabies. I came to realize that by establishing regularly staffed clinics in the gompas (monasteries), I could more quickly treat monks and nuns before they became too sick and spread their illness to the rest of the monastic community. So, in 1993 I founded the Himalayan Medical Foundation (HMF) a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
For close to 23 years now, we have operated seven clinics that treat not only the monastic but also the local lay population as well. We provide medical examinations, X-rays, laboratory testing and medication free of charge to all those who come to our clinics. We treat all the illnesses common to third-world countries and are able to see over 95% of all patients without the need to refer them to a hospital for a higher level of care.
Over the years, the HMF has also sponsored the installation of solar heated shower houses, toilets, water delivery, and water purification systems. In addition to this, we have provided several vaccination programs to the monasteries where our clinics are located. With adequate funding we could offer a truly comprehensive preventative and public health program to the gompas.
Now we are faced with a new challenge much more demanding than isolated epidemics in the monasteries.
As expected, we are starting to see more than double the usual number of patients that frequent our clinics along with an increased need and use of medications and medical supplies. In addition we need to hire two more Health Assistants as well as a part-time Doctor to handle the increased patient load.Cases of dysentery, as well as skin and respiratory infections are on the rise. With the monsoon season coming up, the World Health Organization is concerned about the potential outbreak of epidemics like cholera, other forms of dysentery as well as hepatitis, meningitis, and typhoid fever.
Thus the HMF is in urgent need of additional funds in order to handle this crisis. All donations will go directly to the medical relief efforts in Nepal. The people of Nepal need your help. All donations large or small are greatly appreciated.
Please make checks payable to HMF and send to HMF, 608 Portside Ct., Lafayette, CO 80026.
On our website: www.himalayanmedicalfoundation.org you have the option to give a donation via Paypal and get more information about our work in Nepal.