The International Nepal Fellowship (INF) has conducted many medical relief programmes in Nepal over the last 60 years. One of these was the ‘Ear Camp’ project, which started in 1993 and over the years attracted a large number of volunteers. These camps provided peripatetic care in remote areas where no such service had previously existed and treated a significant number of people with chronic ear disease and deafness with medical care, surgery and hearing amplification. EarAidNepal provided extensive professional support to these camps by sourcing volunteers and providing information. To December 2015 over 43,000 outpatients had been treated and nearly 4,700 operations performed. Download the full data here.
Out of the camps was borne a desire to create a first rate permanent referral facility to treat people with ear disease and deafness, and very importantly, to play a part in the training and education of local medical staff and the general population. This is the ‘INF Ear Treatment and Training Centre’ (ETTC), often abbreviated to ‘Ear Centre’. This is based at the Green Pastures Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre in Pokhara.
A longstanding friend and supporter of the ear camps was Dr Lukas Eberle, a Swiss ENT surgeon. Dr Lukas worked tirelessly to raise funds for the camps and then the Ear Centre, until sadly, he was involved in a serious accident just after the centre opened.
The Ear Centre was completed and opened in November 2015.
In the first 6 years over 2000 ear operations have been done at the Ear centre.
Ear Aid Nepal’s principal aims are to support both the ear hospital and the ear outreach services, supporting people with ear disease and deafness, and particularly those with limited means and poor access to care. This includes training locals and extending the range of services available in the country, in addition to performing basic and primary care research.
This web site exists to support this work and keep up to date with its rapid development. Those who started the ear camps and have experience of living and working in Nepal over many decades are the founding authors.
One of INFs longest running projects, the Green Pastures Leprosy Hospital is in Pokhara, the third city of Nepal. The local population is large and it is a drainage area for many remote parts of western Nepal. The west of Nepal has the lowest health development and most difficult transport links (much of it on foot) in the country.
The Ear Centre also helped rejuvenate thinking about the whole Green Pastures Hospital complex. In addition to existing leprosy, dermatology, spinal, prosthetics and other chronic disability services, there are newer medical facilities developing on this beautiful site, initially including further orthopaedic and trauma surgery, palliative care and diagnostic services.
The ear ‘camps’ will continue in a new community outreach form. Shorter and more frequent, using newly trained primary ear care practitioners, other paramedicals and specialised ear doctors small satellite and mobile clinics are being planned, offering screening, basic diagnosis and treatment. These will in addition provide health education regarding ear disease and hearing loss, as well as preventative strategies. Referral pathways back to recognised centres such as that at Green Pastures in Pokhara will be developed.
Difficulties obtaining visas for expatriate volunteers to do outreach work means that large surgical ear camps in remote and deprived areas are not currently feasible. It has proved difficult and unaffordable to find sufficient trained local surgeons and other medical staff ready to support such camps.
We have many stories of needy people who have suffered for many years with treatable or preventable illness. Many thousands of patients have received advice and medications, life changing ear surgery, hearing tests and hearing aid fittings. Now that the hospital is open we are seeing even more people with very complex or long-term ear disease, often with complications.
We want to extend our services at basic and advanced levels. We often see children and adults with profound deafness. Some could benefit from Cochlear Implantation. This is expensive and requires specialist services but can change an entire life. It is heart wrenching to turn away a family with a small child that was born deaf and could benefit from this treatment, as they would in developed countries. We hope to develop this service.
So what do we need? We need volunteers. Over the years we have had many specialists, often at the top of their fields join us on the camps for a week or two. We would like them to return to support the Centre and Outreach services to teach and work alongside Nepali staff. We also need people to make longer or regular short-term commitments, perhaps returning annually or working on our behalf in their home countries.
Of course we also need practical help, chiefly money but also equipment.
EAN is a strong supporter of the ‘Medical Charity Fund’ at GP Hospital. This fund is used to subsidise or cover all costs of treatment for the many ear patients having limited means. Such patients undergo a social assessment by trained counsellors. This is a difficult task but we are committed to ensuring that the disadvantaged are never turned away and receive compassionate and excellent care.
This site will show you ways you can make a difference.