Another team take up the challenge

Assam, India: October 2-6th 2017

Team members:

Surgeons:

Mohan Jayasundera (Australia)

Kim Goddard (Australia)

Shambu Yadev (Scotland)

Anaesthetist:

Raj Potula (Australia)

This was the second Hernia International mission to Assam, at the Makunda Christian General and Leprosy Hospital. The team met up at Kolkata airport and flew to Silchar, Assam. From there the 120km to the Hospital took over 5 hours on the worst roads in India!

Makunda Hospital is a mission hospital in a very rural and remote part of Assam, close to the border with Bangladesh and Tripura State. The nearest hospital with surgical services is over 5 hours away in Siclhar. Over the last 20 years the Hospital has gradually expanded and has a very busy maternity unit delivering over 5000 babies per year. The outpatients see over 500 patients per day; however it is still a single surgeon institution, although hopefully this should be changing in the near future.

We were accommodated at the home of the founding doctors, Dr Vijay Anand Ismavel and Dr Ann Miriam. As they were away for the initial part of our visit, in addition to the usual adult and paediatric hernias, hydroceles and orchidopexies; we were kept busy managing the acute surgical patients during the week of our visit. Given the remoteness of our location, and the advanced state the patients presented in, several life saving emergency operations were required during our visit.

As well as being accommodated in their family home, all our meals were provided for. The Hospital is essentially self sufficient, growing their own food on Hospital land, and feeding all the staff and patients. They have also developed a nursing school, and a primary and secondary school for the children of the staff and local community.

http://www.makunda.in/home

There were 3 theatre tables (in two operating theatres), however as one of the diathermy machines needed repair, we often shared with the Obstetric team. There was a continual stream of caesars occurring in the table adjacent in the same theatre, throughout our visit. We were all very impressed with the training and dedication of the theatre nurses, who willingly operated frequently late into the evening with no complaint. The frequent cups of sweet chai supplied by the kitchen kept everybody going with intermittent sugar rushes!

This part of rural Assam is certainly a beautiful part of India, with a mixture of Hindu and Muslim Bengali people (some from across the border from Bangladesh), Assamese and various tribal peoples who look ethnically similar to Nepalese, Chinese, Burmese, Tibetan, Bhutanese and Thai. This is a biodiversity hotspot of the world, with an interesting collection of giant multicoloured spiders visible on our walks to the Hospital, a giant (over 30cm) Tokay Gecko we shared our bedroom with, and the myriad of twinkling fireflies over the paddy fields at night.

This was certainly a very productive and fulfilling mission, and I would highly recommend it to anyone else who would like to visit this Hospital.

Mohan Jayasundera

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