The Lady Willingdon Hospital, Manali:

Manali is a bustling cross-roads in the Himalayan mountains of Northern India.  With a population of around 30,000, it is home to a substantial population of Nepalese, Tibetan and Kashmiri refugees from the surrounding areas.  The Lady Willingdon Hospital is one of the only reliable clinics in the entire Kullu Valley, and provides affordable and subsidized medical care to all.  In addition to addressing the needs of patients in the hospital setting, doctors travel to remote and hard to reach communities in the surrounding mountains and establish temporary clinics to meet the people’s chronic and acute health care needs.

In addition to providing direct aid, the Lady Willingdon hospital is committed to addressing underlying health issues in the community.  In 2007 our Director spent six weeks working with the hospital social worker to design a program to screen school aged children for symptoms of acute and chronic disease and malnutrition. Their team found that 46% of the boys and 36% of the girls exhibited wasting, according to National Center for Health Statistics criteria.  Intake of calcium was only half the RDA set by India (400 mg).  Intake of vitamin A was about 40% of the Indian RDA (600-700 IU).  During the screening, 25 children were found to be suffering from acute disease.  They were given free care at the hospital that day.  The team also traveled to local orphanages and provided screening and physical exams to the residents.

The strength of this program is the integrated approach.  When the health team identifies children with acute medical conditions, they receive free and immediate care.  School teachers are on board with the health efforts, and plans are underway to introduce health education into the school curriculum.  In addition to seeing children individually, the health team distributes anti-helminthics, a necessary step in preventing anemia and malnutrition due to parasitic infection.

The Bush Medicine Partnership plans to return to Manali to further the goals of this preventative care project.