From Elective Reviews - Nepal - Anandaban Hospital, Nepal 2014 - Beth Silvester
Anandaban Hospital is a leprosy hospital located in rural Nepal. It is surrounded by beautiful hills and subsistence farming communities, but is less than an hour's journey from the country's capital, Kathmandu. The hospital was set up by The Leprosy Mission, who are a UK based charity with projects in several countries in Africa and Asia (many of which could be visited on elective so see their website for more information about projects in different countries.
I went out to Anandaban to do research as a part of my intercalated degree in International Health, so my experience was slightly different to that of an elective placement. With the use of a translator, I interviewed patients about their experiences of stigma and discrimination because of their leprosy. As leprosy is now a treatable disease (halting disease progression and shortening patients' infective period), the remaining deformities, disability and resulting stigma are becoming key areas for intervention. Many of the patients I interviewed had experienced social exclusion from their community or family, ranging from being left out of conversations to being divorced by their spouse or forced to move away from a community. Others feared the discrimination that they might face and so hid their diagnosis by self-excluding themselves and lying about their symptoms. It was a joy to spend time just loving and laughing with these patients who had experienced such rejection from those they were once close to.
Anandaban Hospital uses a very multidisciplinary approach to treat its patients, and so there is lots that you could see and join in with if you were to go there for elective. Anandaban usually has about 200 leprosy inpatients who have a wide variety of physical problems due to their leprosy. In addition, there is a non-leprosy ward where patients come in with a variety of medical issues. Surgery takes place several times a week. This is often leprosy surgery– for example wound debridement, claw hand surgery and amputations, and there is also general surgery too. Once a week the staff from Anandaban take all of their medical supplies to a more urban hospital where they diagnose and treat patients who cannot reach Anandaban. Some of these patients will then be taken up to Anandaban at the end of the day if they require surgery or an inpatient stay. You could also spend time with the prosthetics team, physios and research department.
Anandaban is a Christian hospital and so mornings begin with whole team devotions. Anandaban is an awesome example of where Christian healthcare professionals are loving the poor and rejected, and leading them to Jesus.
The country of Nepal is stunning and varied. Kathmadu is busy and exciting with loads of tourist things to see. Pokhora is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains, with a huge lake you can boat on and lots of delicious restaurants. Then there is trekking in the mountains, where a guide can lead you between guest houses for as many days as you desire, surrounded by the most stunning scenery.