I am ecstatic to announce that I will be traveling with a team of around 25 medical students, nursing students, Board certified physicians, and dentists to the Indo-Tibetan border with the Himalayan Health Exchange. HHE, a non-profit health outreach program founded in 1996 that provides healthcare to 4 remote regions of the Indian Himalayas. The annual healthcare provided in these regions helps to supplement the extremely scare access to healthcare in these remote regions. The existing programs provides an established relationship with village leaders, regional and state government representatives, and medical networks. The mission of HHE is to "provide medical and dental care to the underserved people living in remote regions of the Indian Himalayas". Profits from expeditions are generated only from participants- all of the education and healthcare provided to individuals at the clinics is free. This profit supports the organization, a special needs school in Himachal Pradesh and an orphanage in Tabo, Spiti. HHE is also involved in Project Heart and the Himalayan Health Center hospital in Manali. Project Heart is a program that funds education about early treatment for streptococcal pharyngitis and complications that may arise such as rheumatic heart disease and includes annual surgical trips to the Himalayas to preform heart valve replacements.
My trip will be to Spiti, a thinly populated region (one person per square mile). Healthcare access in Spiti is extremely limited due to the high altitude and remoteness. The area includes the village of Kibber, the world's highest permanent human settlement. My expedition starts in Chandigarh and will take me through ancient Buddhist land that was restricted to travel until 1992. We will be traveling for a little over 3 weeks through the Trans-Himalayan region providing free healthcare in clinics set up in schools, monasteries and tents with the help of interpreters. We will provide healthcare to approximately 1600 patients and help arrange follow up care with the state owned hospitals as necessary. Throughout each expedition care is coordinated with local healthcare system and cultures through open communication with the state health department and local leaders.
Throughout this enlightening experience I am not expecting to "change the world". My experiences in Haiti, global health education and conversations with global health physicians so far during my first year of Medical School have taught me that it takes years to establish a relationship with a community and this is a daunting and impossible task for any medical student. However, I have learned that in order to fall in love with the world and strive to be a global health physician early clinical exposure is imperative. This experience will allow me to gain an understanding of a practicing health care in remote settings under new cultural practices with limited resources. It will also tremendously supplement my clinical exposure and help develop my ability to work as a healthcare team. I decided that I want to dedicated my summer to working with patients because clinical exposure is extremely limited during first year of Med School leaving little opportunity to integrate the mass amount of knowledge thrown at us with patient care. With HHE I will be working under the supervision of a physician and will be practicing most of the skills I learned this year in my clinical skills course. Additionally I will have the opportunity to analyze and present cases with fellow medical and nursing students after each clinic and attend lectures about local healthcare and traditions. This invaluable exposure will certainly further me on my way to becoming a physician dedicated to a career in global health.
Unfortunately and fortunately, there is a fee associated with this trip. I say fortunately because the fee helps provide funding to the organizations I mentioned above and allows this non-profit to provide FREE healthcare to these remote communities. Unfortunately, I am currently funding almost my entire medical school education with loans and am unable to fund the cost of this trip. I am seeking help with fundraising for the trip costs that totals around $4500. These costs include international airfare, meals, medical supplies, a few nights of hotel accommodations, tents while on the road and visits to monasteries. I understand it is a lot to ask for donations but if anyone feels like they are financially capable of supporting me on my journey I encourage you to help out! I appreciate all the support I have received from family and friends thus far in supporting me on my past medical trips. I thank everyone in advance for your consideration to helping me reach my funding goals!
If you are interested in donating please use the secure paypal donate button to the right of this post. ( The donation page still says "supplies for Haiti" but the money will be used for HHE. )
For more information about HHE and their programs in the Indian Himalayas please visit their website: http://www.himalayanhealth.com/index.shtml
Thank you for all your support!
A picture taken from a clinic site from a past participants blog: http://spiti2011.blogspot.com/