Former JPH physician to set up tented hospital in Nepal
PUBLISHED: 09:30 17 February 2012
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012
HE has treated thousands of patients across the borough in his 25 years as a consultant physician at the James Paget Hospital.
Now Dr David Ellis is to face an entirely different challenge when his team of medics flies to the mountainous country of Nepal to set up a tented hospital next month.
Eleven experts are to set up the temporary hospital in the district of Sankhuwasaba, and in a week hope to treat more than 1,000.
The region is around the same size as Norfolk with a population of 150,000 - but is served by only two GPs. If people fall seriously ill and cannot walk to a health centre, death is probable - and Dr Ellis is expecting people to flock to the hospital from across the region.
“We expect people to walk up to three days to get to our health camp,” he said. “We won’t turn anyone away.”
To get to the region his team must take a twin-engine plane to a remote air strip an hour from the capital of Kathmandu. It is a further two days’ journey by off-road vehicle to the nearest town, and then a day’s walk to where they are setting up camp.
He first carried out aid work in Nepal in 2010, and says the change is noticeable already.
“We have made a difference,” he said. “The health posts we’ve set up have made a real improvement to local people’s access to health care provision.”
On his first trip he met 13-year-old Ejina, who could not walk due to a severely fractured leg caused by a congenital bone abnormality. Her left shin was folded at nearly a right angle, but Dr Ellis’ team helped her to the capital city where she had surgery.
When he returned in 2011 she was able to walk unaided, and her leg is held together by a metal pin.
Dr Ellis will not be doing any direct patient care himself as he is not licensed to do so in Nepal, but will be using his knowledge to support the licensed medics.
The team will not be equipped to perform surgery under general anaesthetic, but can help people access this care elsewhere.
Dr Ellis, who retired in 2008 but is still a non-executive director at the JPH, lives in North Burlingham.
He decided to help those in Nepal when he saw that the founder of the Nepal In Need charity - whose husband used to be a Nepalese sherpa - lives in nearby Lingwood.
The charity provides primary health care in remote villages, buys school textbooks, installs clean water supplies and purchases solar power systems.
Dr Ellis flies out to Nepal on March 3, and the project is being funded by a £5,700 grant from London-based The Funding Network. It will pay for a consultant gynaecologist, radiologist, X Ray technician, lab assistant, GP, staff nurse, two health care assistants, record keeper, medical equipment and costs of setting up the hospital.
For information about Nepal In Need or to donate, see www.nepalinneed.org