In this issue...
Letter from the Chair, Dr. Nora Cullen
Welcome to the first NepalAbility newsletter of 2020! This has been a year of unprecedented change and turmoil around the world, with the COVID-19 pandemic featuring front and centre. During these times of global health crisis, it is easy to forget that the other health and disability issues faced by people around the world have not disappeared. Nowhere is this more evident than in economically disadvantaged countries like Nepal. Persons with disability have struggled in Nepal due to low economic status, under-developed health infrastructure, and highly restricted access to rehabilitation services. These difficulties have been further compounded by the impact of the global pandemic both within the country, and on the foreign aid front for funding and personnel, upon which much of the health infrastructure depends.
NepalAbility began in Toronto around 2005 after a visit and talk from a surgeon and a physiotherapist working in Nepal. They spoke of the fact that there was almost no rehabilitation service available to the people of Nepal.
Since then, NepalAbility has sent 22 teams of rehabilitation related health professionals, and over 65 members mostly from Canada, all devoted to improving rehabilitation access and quality in Nepal. The teams visit at approximately six-month intervals, and focus on creating educational services for medical, nursing, and other interprofessional staff. NepalAbility is directly affiliated with two hospitals in central Nepal: A general hospital in Tansen, and a former leprosy hospital in Pokhara that is transforming into a rehabilitation-based hospital. We also provide salary support for a Nepali physical therapist, physio assistant, and spinal cord injury peer support worker in Tansen. It is important to highlight that all of the money donated to NepalAbility goes directly to support Nepali staff or our projects in Nepal. All travel and accommodation costs are paid for by the traveling team members themselves, allowing essentially 100% of donated dollars to go to front-line initiatives.
Like many organizations providing assistance around the world, NepalAbility runs on funds provided by generous donors. We are delighted to announce that as of November 2020, we have become a formal charitable organization and now have the ability to issue tax receipts to donors. This is a tremendous advantage for any organization, and we hope that this new charitable status will make it easier for existing and new individual and corporate donors to consider financial contributions to NepalAbility.
Perhaps one of the few positives of the pandemic has been a shift in thinking about distance education and an increased emphasis on, and acceptance of, synchronous interaction (such as videoconferencing) and asynchronous teaching presentations that can be accessed at the learner’s convenience (such as podcasts or streaming video). Fortunately, one of the things that is quite widely available in Nepal is cellular and internet technology, making these approaches quite feasible. We currently have a task force focused on developing these education materials, for which we hope to provide updates to you in the months to come.
This is a time of change for our organization! We believe that we are uniquely positioned to move forward with supporting a developing rehabilitation agenda in Nepal, with the hope that the strategies and materials under development can be used in other parts of Nepal and even other countries. I cannot overemphasize the importance of rehabilitation in restoring function and quality of life after injury or illness, and this is even more important in a part of the world where there is no social safety net upon which individuals and families can depend on to return to pre-injury function. As one Canadian physiatrist has said, “Rehabilitation is like clean water: Essential to life, but largely unappreciated until it isn’t available”.
Please continue to help us make rehabilitation available to the people of Nepal!
With warm regards,
Dr. Nora Cullen
Clinical Collaborations and Lifelong Memories - The Team 22 Visit to Nepal
Dr. Ainsley Kempenaar, with Dr. Alexandra Rendely
The more you give, the more you get.
Our most recent team, Team 22, echoed this sentiment upon their return from Nepal in November 2019.
By promoting neuro-rehabilitation, providing sustainable education and collaborating with our Nepali healthcare partners, Team 22 gave their knowledge, but received life experiences, new friendships and lasting memories in return.
The enthusiastic interdisciplinary group comprised of Jamie Young, physiotherapist, Edith Ng, occupational therapist, Michelle Esau, registered nurse, Dr. Nora Cullen, brain injury physiatrist, and Dr. Ainsley Kempenaar, senior physiatry resident.
A New Lens on Teaching - The NepalAbility Education Subgroup
Preparing for Distance Education with NepalAbility
Dr. McKyla McIntyre
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed how we typically collaborate with our Nepali partners. Face-to-face education sessions and bedside rounds are not currently feasible. LIke so many, we have pivoted to revamp our education strategy to meet the needs of our Nepali healthcare partners.
Our broad strategy aims to include synchronous learning (ie, same time and place) using videoconferencing platforms. We will also include asynchronous learning (ie, different time and place) with a focus on interactivity and practical cases. Our hope is to partner with local education champions to assist with knowledge translation and application to practice. We want to ensure that our education interventions lead to long-term, sustainable change.
We have developed a needs assessment that will be circulated to our Nepali partners to gain a better sense of their specific educational goals. Some of the areas of interest that have already been identified are acquired brain injury (traumatic and non-traumatic), rehabilitation nursing and cardiac rehabilitation. Some of these areas are new for us at NepalAbility. In response, we are liaising with Canadian organizations to expand the breadth of resources available.
A New Series: The Faces of Neuro Rehab
Dr. Alexandra Rendely
NepalAbility is pleased to announce a new series to our website: The Faces of NeuroRehab, where we will feature patient stories from the sites we work with in Nepal. Stay tuned for more articles like the one below:
Sometimes being at the front of the line is a bonus – best seats, first access, newest purchase. But sometimes, being the first comes with risks and challenges.
Here is the rehabilitation story of Mr. M.
In 2017 Mr. M started experiencing severe leg weakness, making it difficult for him to walk, an activity he did daily. Then it became difficult for him to get up from lying or sitting. Within a few short days it was hard for him to breathe.
That is when he presented to United Mission Hospital (UMH) in Tansen.
A British physician was on call that evening when Mr. M was brought into the emergency department. A quick review of the events from the days prior and a brief physical exam lead to the presumed diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rapidly progressing neurological disease.
With Mr. M’s quickly declining ability to breathe, the doctors had to work fast.
Mark your calendars in 2021 – NepalAbility is coming to a desktop near you!
Get ready for our annual fundraiser, with a virtual twist!
To our NepalAbility Supporters,
We wanted to send our best wishes out to our NepalAbility family and sincerely hope the last several months have not brought too much hardship to you and those you care for. We know the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, and we hope everyone is healthy and safe.
As the pandemic continues to limit our social interactions and gatherings, it has significantly changed the dynamic of fundraising this year and we are saddened that we will not be able to host our annual event and see your wonderful faces in person.
Despite this change, we are committed to continuing our fundraising goals in support of our ongoing initiatives in Nepal, and are excited to share with you our approach to fundraising in 2021. Like so many, we will be migrating to an online platform and hosting a variety of events that will allow us to stay connected. Stay tuned for more info on this exciting series of virtual fundraising events, coming next year!
We also ask you to please consider making a donation. We know that there are many competing priorities this year, but if you are able to make a donation as part of this tax year, we would be very grateful. Donations can be made securely on the Donate page of our website, which you can access by clicking the button below. All donations over $25 will receive a tax receipt.
As always, thank you for your continued support of NepalAbility! Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!
With warmest regards,
The NepalAbility Team