Samagaun Health Post sits high in the mountains of North Gorkha – it takes 6 to 7 days to walk there from the road and at 3,500 meters it is the at the highest altitude of all the PHASE health posts. Gorkha borders Tibet and many of the people in Samagaun are culturally Tibetan and speak that as their first language. In these high mountain villages many people seek the advice of the Lama, a traditional Buddhist healer, before looking to modern medicine. PHASE looks to embrace the culture of the communities in which we work and wanted to establish partnerships with traditional healers, ensuring we are working together to support the health of those in remote villages. A Traditional Healers training day took place in Samaguan on October 10th 2012 as part of a series of training days in the Gorkha region.
Interactive discussion about common health problems.
A number of Lamas participated in each training day. A Lama in Nepal is an honorific title which is applied to a Buddhist spiritual leader who has gone through several years’ training and meditation practice.
The training days kicked off at 8.30am with a speech from the chair of the Local Health Post Management Committee followed by introductions and the day’s objectives being outlined. The main aims of the session were to build stronger relationships between Lamas and PHASE health workers, to exchange ideas about the main health issues in the village and the management of common problems and to increase lamas’ knowledge about the treatment facilities at the local health post.
Ultimately the goal of the training sessions was to ensure that Lamas know when to refer sick people to the health post for treatment, that they understand what treatments are available – and that they don’t feel that health workers want to undermine their authority within the community.
After the first break for some delicious Nepali tea an insightful and interactive session was held about issues of traditional treatment and Tibetan treatment (Amchi), followed by discussing religious beliefs and religious ceremonies. After this there was some group interaction and brainstorming on the theme of the modern treatment systems, environmental cleanliness and personal hygiene.
PHASE nurse Anjana demonstrating clinical hand-washing
After lunch, short lectures and discussion groups covered common health problems of the community including nutrition, diarrhoea, viral diseases and communicable diseases, TB, safe motherhood, family planning and immunization.
The end of the day saw distributions of soap, toothpaste and certificates of participation. A closing speech was given and then there was a photo session to make sure such a successful and valuable day will be both remembered and repeated.
Front row (right to left): PHASE programme manager Brihaspati Sunuwar, 3 local lamas. Standing (right to left): PHASE community mobiliser Shanti, 4 local lamas, health post management committee chairman Bir Bahadur Sherpa, PHASE health worker Apsara.
(Shanti and Apsara are wearing traditional Sherpa dress as a mark of respect for the community and the lamas, as is Anjana in the earlier pictures)