Specialist Treatment and Care
A life restored
Health care is not usually free in Nepal. Even the cost of travelling to the nearest hospital can be prohibitive for people scraping together a meagre living on the land. Life can be very hard, especially in the remoter regions. Traditional beliefs and practices may not encourage people to seek medical help.
Kalpana was married at 14 and became pregnant at 17. She endured seven days of labour before her child was stillborn. As a result she was left with a tear in her bladder, an obstetric fistula, which left her constantly wet and leaking urine. This condition is almost unheard of in the West because of the care given to women in labour. Sadly, stories like Kalpana's are all too common in Nepal.
Kalpana was regarded as an outcast by her family and community. Her husband divorced her and remarried. She now farms a small piece of land and has a cow and an ox. To earn extra money she carries heavy loads, often more than her own bodyweight.
Thanks to Dil, an INF nurse who visits local health posts, Kalpana heard about the Obstetric Fistula Camp. This is run each year by Shirley, our gynaecologist. The camp was held in an unused building in the grounds of the government hospital in Surkhet. Kalpana was one of 37 women who travelled there for fistula repair surgery.
Kalpana had already been to two previous camps, but operations had been unsuccessful. However, she did not give up hope and returned for a third year. This time the procedure worked and Kalpana returned home to a new life, no longer smelling or leaking urine.
INF's gynaecologist, Shirley, and her team are also working to educate community health officials and local people, so that the risk of obstetric fistula is reduced. Shirley's dream is for a permanent fistula centre where women affected by fistula can get help whenever they need it.
In Nepal, people face many challenges, from malnutrition and HIV/AIDS to leprosy and TB, even though some of these conditions have been officially declared as eliminated. Teams of medics from Nepal, and worldwide, staff INF hospitals and clinics, and travel to remote areas for medical outreach.