Aussie Aid Expedition

Volunteer Aussie doctors head to Nepal to help run a field-based, high-altitude medical clinic.
By Amy Russell December 1, 2013 Reading Time: 2 Minutes

VILLAGERS OF THE ANNAPURNA region in the Himalaya, Nepal, will receive a special delivery from Australia in April 2011: 16 emergency doctors and nurses.

The Everest Base Camp Annapurna Volunteer-Aid Expedition (EBCA 2011), hailing from Southern Health’s Casey Emergency Hospital Department in Melbourne, has joined forces with Peregrine Adventures, the Peregrine Community Trust (TPCT) and the Himanchal Education Foundation, to build and run a field-base medical clinic in Nangi – a village on the southern flank of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges.

The humanitarian mission is a side project to TPCT’s Annapurna Community Lodge Project, a venture that oversees the construction of school lodges and the training of Nepalese teachers to help educate children in the region. The EBCA team, which includes a pharmacist and a paediatrician, will spend 38 days in Annapurna, working in the clinic and travelling to local and surrounding villages to consult and treat the local people.

The group also intend to educate and up-skill the local Nepalese health-care personnel so that once the 38 days are over, the local doctors will be left with the skills and experience required to run the clinic. And even then, they won’t be simply abandoning ship. “We don’t see this as an isolated venture, but rather an ongoing commitment. We’ve entered into the arrangement that Southern Health will part-own the clinic with the local community, and we will continue to send volunteers and provide financial aid for the next few years to help run the clinic,” explains expedition leader Andre Kogan.

From Annapurna, the EBCA 2011 team will make their way to the Himalayan Rescue Association Volunteer-Aid Post in Pheriche. They will also head to EverestER – established at Base Camp, Mt Everest – to treat the local Sherpa people and climbers attempting to summit. Here, the team will observe and learn more about high-altitude medicine. Over the next few years, they plan to continue the volunteer committment during peak Everest climbing seasons.

It’s hard to ignore their passion and enthusiasm for the mission. “We not only think it’s a privilege to do this, but also our obligation; we have the skills, experience and resources that these people don’t. Nepal is one of the top ten poorest countries in the world; they have a high infant mortality rate, especially in the under-five age group and they have no access to basic sanitation, let alone any medical health care. Our plan is to try and help these people, who can’t get any help otherwise, by offering our services on a continued basis.”

The team hope that successful implementation of the clinic will strengthen ties between Australia and Nepal. “We hope this venture will create new relationships that will assist the Nepalese people in the long run, in terms of volunteer work, economy and so forth,” explains Andre. 

Remarkably, the EBCA team intend for the project to be completely sole funded. “We’re trying to raise public awareness, seek media exposure and gain corporate sponsorship as well as plan fundraising drives to help raise money for the project,” says Andre.

To find out more about EBCA 2011, or to donate, visit here.