Over the past 25 years INF’s Medical Camps have brought long-term sustainable transformation. The Camps not only improved the health and livelihoods of thousands of people, they have also trained government health workers, strengthened primary health centres and health posts that assist with the Camps and provide follow up care. The training provided to local doctors and other medical staff has developed invaluable skills for the future health of the country.
The Camps developed out of work at the Western Regional Hospital involving Dr. Mike Smith and Sr. Ellen Findlay. INF Camps Coordinator Eka Dev Devkota has also been part of the team from its earliest days, faithfully organising the mind-boggling logistics of most camps. Mike and Ellen saw the need to reach people in the more remote, mountainous, areas of Nepal, so they began planning and ran the first Ear Camp in 1993 in Beni, in Western Nepal.
The Camps have been rewarding and often very hard work. The first camp in Beni meant hours of driving in a Land Rover, followed by several hours of walking carrying a basket of equipment. Back in 1993, staff often shared poor accommodation with the local rats, ate questionable food, and had limited toilet and washing facilities. Setting up and cleaning areas for out-patients and the theatre was often a challenge, with poor sanitation or no water at all. The Camps were usually managed by one surgeon and several supporting staff.
As of 2017, 93,338 people have been treated through 131 different camps. Building on the success of the Camps, INF opened its Ear Centre in Pokhara in 2015 and a Fistula Centre is near completion in Surkhet.
Read the full article in the latest issue of Today in Nepal.