In April 2019, Ujeli Care Cente (UCC) made several enormous steps forward towards reaching the ultimate goal of providing sustainable, qualitative, free healthcare for the less fortunate children of Pokhara, Nepal. Since the finish of the summer project in August 2018, multiple developments took place over a short period of time.
From April 11 until April 20, two members of UCC traveled to Nepal to evaluate the current status of the construction site of the Ujeli Hospital. Together, Nanou Winter and Alexander De Moor, both longtime members of UCC, finished a successful project. The purpose of this trip was to evaluate the last modifications in the construction and be present on the official opening ceremony of the hospital, which was scheduled on April 16, 2019.
The official inauguration of the Ujeli Hospital was carried out by Sir Damu Adhikari, President of the Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who is also a representative of the local Lions Club in Pokhara, Nepal. A traditional ceremony, in accordance with the Nepalese culture, was held with the attendance of the local press, envoys from several political organizations and representatives from the local community.
In the last two years, the realization of the dental department has been made possible by the generous support of Medico Lions Clubs Belgium. Special thanks is expressed to the members of LC Antwerpen-Moerland, LC De Panne-Westkust, LC Tielt and to Mr. Luc Van Antwerpen for their contribution and for making this enormous endeavor a noteworthy success.
The dental department was put into use on the opening day of the Hospital. The first patients were screened on oral and dental health. Together with DDS Deepak Ranjan, a local dentist specialized in Public Dentistry, Dr. Alexander De Moor performed dental screening in 28 children. Oral health instructions were given for all children, referral for urgent treatment was made if necessary, and a 3-monthly recall for follow-up was planned in July 2019 when the team of UCC is traveling to Pokhara for the summer project. All children were provided with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Furthermore, a new health topic on menstruation was added to the preventive program and was launched in a small female test group. Basic information on the female anatomy and the menstrual cycle was given. The purpose of this course was to implement the use of menstrual cups. The group consisted of 13 girls and women of the secondary school of Luang, a mountain region in the outer valley of Pokhara. This specific school has been followed by UCC for 8 years now and has maintained a close relationship with UCC. Every attendee received a menstrual cup, sponsored by UCC.
Menstruation is a controversial topic of conversation in Nepal. With the introduction of the menstrual cup, UCC aims to improve health and feminine hygiene. UCC has been providing sexual health education for 3 consecutive years. From these experiences, the idea grew to continue working on improving self-care during menstruation in young women. Access to reliable, effective hygiene products is severely limited in Nepal. The common approach to deal with menstruation, consists of intercepting the monthly blood loss with a cotton cloth. According to ancient religious traditions, which are still regarded as an important aspect in the life of Nepali people, it is unsanitary to have a woman residing in the family house during this period of the month. As to which, many women have to sleep outside every month in human unworthy circumstances. It is the goal of UCC to make this controversy a negotiable topic in Nepal.
A menstrual cup may be a vital attribution to the personal life of a girl. By increasing the knowledge of female anatomy and by offering women a means of emancipation; not only their personal health but presumably more aspects in the life of Nepali women will improve drastically. The lifetime of a single cup is well over 15 years. In this way, a cost-efficient product but also a sustainable solution is provided in regard to the climate change.
In summary, the April project was a tremendous success. The progress made during these few days, marks an important milestone in the history of the existence of UCC. With the dental department operational, screening of oral health in the children of the schools followed by UCC, can be expanded by the possibility to refer patients to the Ujeli Hospital for extended preventive instructions and/or necessary treatments. It has been a remarkable observation over the last few years that these children would benefit greatly from basic dental treatment which from now on can be provided by UCC in the Ujeli Hospital.
A collection of photos taken during the project in April 2019 were attached to this report.
Dr. Alexander De Moor
Vice-president of vzw Ujeli Care Centre Belgium
In the name of Ms. Nanou Winter and the UCC 2019 Team.