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Tibetan Primary Health Care Centre

IVHQ Booster Grant Recipient - Tibetan Primary Health Care Centre

IVHQ is proud to share that Tibetan Primary Health Care Centre in Bir has been awarded the second IVHQ Booster Grant for 2014.

Tibetan Primary Health Care Centre is a served by Medical volunteers on the IVHQ India - Dharamsala volunteer program. The centre was established in a dispensary tent in 1967 and today provides healthcare services to a population of over 7,000 Tibetan settlers, in addition to a significant number of local Indian population living in Bir.

IVHQ Healthcare volunteer, Mary Denholm, submitted a Booster Grants proposal for Tibetan Primary Health Care Centre to purchase an HbA1c machine for the centre.

Tibetan Primary Health Care Centre in Bir - IVHQ Booster Grants

“I was honoured and privileged to be so well supported and looked after whilst at the clinic, and learnt so much from the experience. This was a reflection of my time with the Tibetan community in general, so welcoming and generous even after all that they have endured. The team work and cohesion at the clinic was inspiring and I was keen to apply for the Booster Grant to try and help them to get the HbA1c equipment, especially as they had been wanting it for a while. I hope it will be very helpful and thank IVHQ for considering and granting the proposal,” shares Mary.

“Amongst the Tibetan community, including those exiled in India, there is a very high prevalence of diabetes. This is principally Type 2 Diabetes and is especially prevalent in those of middle and elderly age, although a number of younger patients are becoming affected. In the Western world, a test called HbA1c is used to monitor long-term blood glucose concentrations and how they average out over a period of months, giving a good estimate of a person’s blood sugar control over time, and more accurately than random blood sugar measurements. In turn HbA1c measurements can inform diagnosis, suitable medication regimes and risks of the complications of diabetes including eye, kidney, heart and nerve damage. In Bir, they currently do not have the facility to measure HbA1c, a considerable hindrance in managing the diabetes in the community there. The Booster Grant would be enormously helpful to the clinic in their bid to purchase a HbA1c machine.With their funding from the Central Tibetan Authority, the clinic about manages to break even but this leaves little extra for larger investments such as new laboratory tests or equipment,” explains Mary.

A Tibetan Primary Health Clinic which IVHQ supported with a Booster Grant

“Since I graduated form medical school in the summer of 2011, I have spent most of my time working in hospitals within various regions in the UK. Having met many patients with diabetes and knowing its prevalence in groups from the Indian subcontinent I anticipated encountering it on my placement in Bir in Himachal Pradesh, India. However, as I became more familiar with the patient population at the Tibetan Primary Health Centre, I soon realized Dr Tenzin Dechen and her team were facing dilemmas unlike any I had come across in my short Western career. Faced with the fact that patients did not have the facilities to regularly check their blood glucose at home, the clinic staff were relying on sporadic random measurements of blood glucose to try and guide treatment, something that would be unthinkable in the evidence based medicine of the West. There are a high number of diabetics within the Tibetan community and without any reliable measurements their diabetes management was very challenging. With a HbA1c test the clinic will be able to measure an average of a patient’s blood glucose concentration over the previous months, enabling a much more reliable assessment of how well their diabetes is controlled and what medications and lifestyle measures are appropriate for them. It will also aid with diagnosis of new diabetic patients and prevent some from being commenced on unnecessary medication with possible associated side effects.”

“If left uncontrolled, diabetes can cause enormous damage including kidney failure, blindness, heart disease and nerve damage. HbA1c measurements are considered essential from diagnosis right through all forms of treatment - diet and lifestyle, tablets and insulin - on a lifelong basis. The information this test would provide would be invaluable for the patients and staff at the clinic, informing medication decisions and risk of complications. The benefits of good diabetic control will be felt for the rest of the patients’ lives and will aid in the accurate diagnosis and management of the new generation of diabetics who have not yet presented. Whilst the machine is a large investment, it will last a long time. The clinic already has a qualified lab technician who would be able to run the test and care for the equipment, and Dr Dechen is already well versed in how to interpret the test and incorporate it into her practice. It is a relatively simple measure that would have a large impact in this particular community and its usefulness cannot be underestimated,” explains Mary.

A total of US$2750 was granted to Tibetan Primary Healthcare Centre by IVHQ to invest in an HbA1c test machine, in addition to the following items:

  • White boards - to provide vital health related information to the local community to assist in the prevention of disease and create a more health conscious community
  • Microphone, cord, inverter and battery set - for the Health Education department of the clinic
  • Scanner - for scanning of office documents to facilitate greater efficiency in the transfer of information
  • Water purification system - to provide purified and sterile drinking water for the patients and staff of the clinic

IVHQ’s partner organization in India were responsible for managing the purchase of these items using the Booster Grant money and providing the receipts and photos of these items to IVHQ.

IVHQ Booster Grant recipient

If you are interested in volunteering on Healthcare project in India, visit IVHQ’s Volunteer in India - Dharamsala page.

To learn more about the IVHQ Booster Grants or to submit a proposal, visit the Booster Grants page.

My time in India was full of amazing sights, sounds and adventures and even some wonders of the world (the Taj Mahal!) but the best memories and new perspectives I brought home with me came from my hours in the clinic with Dr Dechen and the team, whether in clinics, visiting the Children’s Village, delivering education sessions or attending the ‘Keep Fit for the Elderly’ class! Thank you and keep up the good work! Mary Denholm (IVHQ Healthcare Volunteer in India)

Sunset in Bir

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