Prabhakar S Thapa joined Ek Ek Paila in May 2015 in the aftermath of the great earthquake. A group of doctors were in need of a person to help coordinate work apart from medical, so he volunteered. The work Ek EK Paila does is important to Thapa because it not only helps in realising the group’s objectives but also gives him immense personal satisfaction in being able to give back to the community.
Health camps and outreach clinics are effective and frequently used methods as short term intervention mostly; could you tell us EEP’s vision for these?
We share a common vision that good health care should be available across the country. Therefore when we conduct camps, we make sure we have multi-disciplinary camps. We have senior doctors in the team who lead the medical efforts. We not only provide relief via these camps which are conducted free but also provide support and coordination for any follow up treatment in bigger centers and cities.
How do you choose the areas to conduct health camps in, and what are the logistic considerations that have to be made?
We have tried to conduct the health camps in the most neglected areas, generally in a cluster. We also work very closely with the local government agencies for this purpose, so their willingness is also an important factor. We have decided to concentrate in Karnali Pradesh for the initial period. Till date, we have covered all northern districts of the province.
Logistics while moving to remote regions are challenging. Getting the equipment and supplies are a problem. These need to move earlier and sometimes by mule train. So it needs multi-agency coordination. Then comes movement of the team, generally comprising 40 to 50 members. Here again such large team movement is difficult given the destinations to get to. There always has to be a plan A, B and C – switching between these at short notices. Safety of the team always remains top priority, so we need to make sure we have adequate precautions taken. Lastly, getting all back just as they went is equally a big challenge.
Do you do a needs assessment prior and post analysis after each camp? What are some of your findings in terms of meeting the objectives?
Yes, Prior assessment is done in two ways: one for medical needs and other for logistics. While Camp Director conducts the medical needs assessment, we have recce team members who normally scout the destination prior to our departure. It helps us prepare as to what to expect when we get there. It also helps establish the first contact with the people in decision making positions.
For post analysis of the camps, here again there is separate medical assessment and logistics. While we share the details of the medical assessment with the local government agencies the logistics is generally internal; to determine our shortcomings.
As our camps are focused on healthcare/medical needs, the medical findings are of immense importance; they help in determining our future course of action. We sometimes have to establish mechanisms to support the efforts of health workers in these remote locations, sometimes infrastructural needs need support which at appropriate time we are able to link donors to meet these needs, and of course when referrals are made, our team members help coordinating patients get care in bigger centers.
All these help in achieving our goal of ensuring opportunity and access to better health.