The village of Hansapur is adjacent to Rupakot, one of the villages where we’re nearing the end of our two-year program and preparing to hand over the clinic later this spring. We’d asked Dr. Madhurima if she would conduct her study on mother/child oral health and nutrition in one of our non-working areas to allow for comparison. It’s an anecdotal comparison of course, because Hansapur and Puranchaur have many differences besides the presence of JOHC in the health post and schools, but it’s something.
Our morning once again consisted of a bouncy bus ride, singing, and this time an extra jeep carrying some folks from another health agency joining us today. Partway along, Helen had the idea to jump in to the back of the jeep, and she was soon joined by our Sindure technician Jagat, our Salyan team leader Nar Bahadur, and me. We bobbed along with the fresh air and hills rolling by and the dust billowing up behind us on the dry winter road.
Since we don’t have a clinic in Hansapur, today’s program was held in a schoolyard. It was challenging getting this screening day set up because we didn’t already have a network of teachers and an existing relationship with the community to help with turnout. But with the high attendance in Puranchaur, we felt a little less pressure, and just went hoping for the best.
So, like, about 350 people showed up. It was INSANE.
This was the kind of success that, in Nepalenglish, we call “too much good.” A little less good might have been gooder. The technicians had no time to pee, and Dr. Bethy and Dr. Keri ended up treating patients all day instead of mentoring, because there were just so many people to get through. When we finished the last patient, it was night time.
But of course the high attendance had a many up sides too. First it was awesome for Madhurima’s study, which we were concerned about. And a few hundred people also got treatment and fluoride varnish from local technicians. We observed that childhood oral disease in Hansapur was significantly worse than in Puranchaur, and while that can’t be attributed off-hand to our school brushing programs and outreach in Puranchaur over the last two years, it doesn’t hurt to know.
But the thing about this day that I most appreciated was that it only took until about 1pm before Nirmala, the local organizer who’d helped us get setup, sat down with Aamod and me and announced that she feels our full program is needed in Hanspaur.
This represents a major turn of tides for us. We’ve always had to do a lot of running around to create demand in the villages where we start. Then we keep at it for two years, hoping that at the end, the community and leaders will still be convinced enough to make good on promised long-term funding. We’re now realizing that we’ve developed enough infrastructure to provoke interest by just showing up and doing our stuff.
So our plan from here on out is to start only in villages that pay the technicians locally from day one. January is the month where villages throughout Nepal submit next year’s budget to the district government. For the first time, we’re positioned to invite places like Hansapur to co-invest in health post dental clinics from the start. In other words, this epic day of screening and treatment doubled as a 1-day free trial, and now local officials can sit and decide whether to allocate funds in a long-term solution for which we’ll provide the architecture, training, set-up and supervision–so that it comes out right, reflecting everything we’ve learned in the last 10 years.
Are you keeping up here? That was day three.