April 2019 | Issue 41
Significant progress for Project Aasha

WANG KAIYING.jpgBy Wang Kaiying, Class of 2022

Project Aasha is an overseas community project that strives for sustainable development in the local
communities of Nepal through education and health initiatives. The project consists of two wings, Biratnagar and Bung. The Biratnagar team focuses on eye health, while Bung focuses more on general
healthcare. During our most recent trip in December 2018, each wing made significant strides of progress.

Biratnagar
Despite Biratnagar being the second most densely populated city in Nepal – after Kathmandu – a significant proportion of its population living on the outskirts still face barriers to eye health due to financial and
geographical factors. As such, our team, led by Dr Rupesh Agrawal, Senior Consultant at TTSH Eye Centre and Deputy Head of Research of the NHG Eye Institute at TTSH, worked together with Birat Eye Hospital
(BEH) to facilitate a cataract surgical camp, as well as initiate projects that would help improve regional eye health in the long run. Over four days, the team facilitated 200 cataract surgeries that were provided
to impoverished locals free of charge, far exceeding our initial target of 120 cases.

With the help of BEH, we also formed partnerships with Birat Medical College Teaching Hospital, Birat Medical College and Gyanchakshu School for the Visually Impaired. For our subsequent trips, we
plan to implement screening programmes for myopia and retinopathy of prematurity, as well as work to improve the facilities and education in Gyanchakshu School. We hope that by implementing programmes
in partnership with local institutions, we will be able to effect lasting change in the region.

Bung

Bung and Sotang are hilly villages in northeastern Nepal with poor access to tertiary healthcare. On our most recent trip, the team, led by Dr Kumaran Rasappan, NHG Senior Resident Orthopaedic Surgery, and Dr Gayathri Nadarajan, Associate Consultant, Emergency Medicine at SingHealth, continued to evaluate the healthcare needs of the population through a health clinic. Over two days, the clinic attended to 177 patients, all of whom were screened for common acute and chronic conditions, and provided with doctors’ consultations if needed.

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LKCMedicine students assisting doctors in triage and examination of Bung villagers

We also introduced education programmes for the villagers, based on needs identified on previous trips. These included menstrual health, physiotherapy exercises, first aid, as well as the management of maternal health emergencies. Each programme targeted various groups within the population, such as students, female volunteer workers, and midwives. The aim of these programmes is to empower local “health champions”, with the ultimate goal of sustainably improving the general health of the villagers in Bung
and Sotang. The physiotherapy education was conducted by physiotherapists and students.

Moving forward, we plan to further develop our existing partnerships with organisations such as Classroom in the Clouds Nepal, as well as track the impact of our education programmes across the years through
assessing retention and utility, so that we may fine-tune our programmes in the future.

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Team members with patients after post-operative check-up

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, as we firmly believe that access to healthcare is a basic human right. To ensure sustainability, our team works with trusted organisations on the ground, consistently ensuring that our work is in line with the community’s existing needs. Through education and building capacity, we hope to improve the lives of the Nepalese, one step at a time.