Another year has gone by and yet the COVID pandemic is still with us. It is hard to believe that more Americans have died from COVID than in the 1917 Spanish Flu Pandemic. At some point the numbers start to all get jumbled up.
Although Nepal is a much smaller country with close to 30 million citizens, COVID has still had a dramatic impact especially in Kathmandu and the Nepal/Indian border towns. To date there have been 785,541 documented cases with 774,4943 recoveries and 11,048 deaths. Of course, these numbers pale in com- parison to the USA but Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia, and it’s ability to keep accurate records is very poor so the numbers are an approximation.
Over this past year there have been a number of “shut downs” in the Kathmandu valley with citizens only allowed out of their homes for brief periods of time daily to purchase food and essentials. Several of these “shut downs” lasted for several months so the impact on the average Nepali has been devastating. Unfor- tunately, during these “shut downs” all outpatient medical and dental clinics were also ordered to close. This has been a very frustrating and challenging time for the HMF and volunteer staff who are all very committed to their work. They continued to use their “home- made” version of Telemedicine, using their I-phones and laptops but I am happy to report as of now our clinics are all open and functioning.
Some good news is that while the COVID virus did eventually “hit” the monasteries and nunneries, the numbers of cases were very manageable and no deaths! It is harder to know how badly the local villagers who use our clinics were affected, but as soon as the “shut downs” were lifted the patients were lining up to be seen. Most of these patients use the HMF clinics as their sole source of medical care and come to be treated for non-COVID ailments, acute and chronic. As we re-opened we did not want our clinics to inadvertently be a source of spread of the virus so we have been instituting some new rules.
1. Everyone, patients and HMF staff are issued masks to wear while in the clinic compounds. At the clinics where we anticipate a potentially higher rate of COVID transmission, PPE (personal protection equipment) is being used to protect the HMF staff.
2. Washing of hands with soap and water, or use of a sanitizer placed at every clinic door is mandatory before being evaluated.
3. Social distancing of at least 6 ft. (this one is hard to enforce as Nepali citizens are accustomed to crowding into small spaces). We painted foot prints 6 ft. apart as an aid to deal with this issue.
I think they thought the whole idea was kind of funny.
At this time no HMF employee or volunteer has contracted the virus and we are not aware of any patient, monastic or lay, contracting COVID as a result of coming to one of our clinics. In Nepal that is not a small feat.
We are still actively looking for a qualified and experienced Health Assistant who lives in the general vicinity of Nagi Gompa. With the addition of some 90 new young nuns along with an increasingly aging ani population there has never been a more important time to provide medical care to this isolated and hard to reach location.
This is the current status of the HMF’s work in Nepal during this COVID pandemic year of 2021. Let us hope, pray and aspire that this devastating pandemic will run its course in the very near future and that life can return to some resemblance of what we call normal.
Please review the photos of the HMF’s attempt to operate during the pandemic.
The HMF staff in Nepal and I would like to express our profound gratitude to you in helping the HMF operate over these 28 years. I hope our stories and photos will continue to inspire your kind support. The HMF is a 501c 3 nonprofit organization and all donations are tax deductible.
Please make a donation via Paypal, or make out a check to the HMF.
Our mailing address is:
The HMF, 608 Portside Court, Lafayette, CO 80026
Dr. Greg at HMF office at Benchen Gompa.
Dr Gregory Rabold, Founder & Medical Director HMF
Phone: 720 387-8087