Wednesday, 11 May 2016 16:44

Mission to Nepal

Dr. Andreas Christodoulides with a brochure of the Tansen, Nepal hospital Dr. Andreas Christodoulides with a brochure of the Tansen, Nepal hospital

A Limassol surgeon is packing his bags again and preparing to leave on a charity mission to Nepal this May. In his second trip to the country, Andreas Christodoulides will be taking with him valuable equipment and money raised from an exhibition of his photographic works taken during last year’s trip.

“I have always wanted to operate in a remote area and found the experience interesting and also difficult. I look forward to returning and helping the dedicated team face new challenges,” he explains in an interview with The Cyprus Weekly.

During a talk and photo presentation last month at Limassol’s 6×6 Centre for Photography, entitled ‘Nepal through the Eyes of a Surgeon’, Christodoulides, a surgeon of 21 years, shared his experience. Interest in the event was so great that the talk was repeated the following day. Proceeds from the sales of the photographs will go towards the hospital and much-needed instruments.

Christodoulides spent three weeks as volunteer surgeon at the United Mission Hospital in Tansen, Nepal in March 2015. It was his first encounter with the kind of poverty endured in Nepal. He says he was most touched by people’s gratitude and motivated by their sincere smiles of hope and thankfulness.

“People were quite happy, despite being so poor,” he says.

A typical day started at 7.45am with prayers, followed by handover, ward rounds and then operations till they were done, especially burns are very common, he recounts, as people have open fires inside their homes and during the colder season blankets often catch fire.

During his time in Tansen, he discovered exceptional doctors with a high level of knowledge dealing with fascinating cases and advanced pathology. The volunteers from all over the world were also highly committed, some of them having lived there for several years and even speaking the language. Everyone does their best, working with limited resources for treatment which pose a constant challenge.

Helping those in need
The country was hit by massive earthquakes (6.7 magnitude) in April 2015, just weeks after Christodoulides’ visit, killing thousands and damaging or destroying infrastructure and homes and further setting back economic development. Nepal’s health system is in a desolate state, with 39 deaths per 1,000 live births.

With a population of over 30 million, Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with about one-quarter of its population living below the poverty line. It is blighted by persistent power shortages, underdeveloped transportation infrastructure and an unstable political situation with 120 political parties.

Tansen, where the hospital is located, is a municipality and the administrative centre of Palpa District in the hills of western Nepal, 300 kms west of Kathmandu and 80 kms from the Indian border. It has a population of about 30,000 (www.visittansen.com).

A mission hospital founded in 1959
Exhibition visitor and friend of Christodoulides, Sasica Jeremic, was so touched by the cause, she has set up a Facebook group entitled ‘Limassol to Tansen’ and a local bank account from which any collected money will then be transferred to the hospital in a lump sum.

The United Mission Hospital Tansen (UMHT) was built by ornithologist Dr Robert Flemming, his physician wife and Dr Carl Friedericks. In 1959, the mission’s first hospital building was opened, and ever since then the hospital has continued to grow.

At present, the hospital has around 405 Nepali employees and 12 mission appointees from different countries, who work mostly as senior doctors in a teaching role, or in other support roles.

The medical division comprises eight surgeons and nine senior medical officers, who are general practitioners, paediatricians, an anaesthetist and medical officers with special training in obstetrics and gynaecology and internal medicine.

The hospital has 165 beds and carries out about 8,000 operations a year. It even has a book dedicated to it (The Hospital at the End of the World) describing its workings from the perspective of a short-term medical missionary.

The United Mission Hospital in Tansen continues to be in need of donations for their medical assistance fund and equipment. More information can be found at www.tansenhospital.org.np and the Facebook group, Limassol to Tansen and the corresponding e-mail address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Article as published in the Cyprus Weekly of 29. April 2016 

 

 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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