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Alder Hey Around The World – Saving Lives In Nepal

Dr Rachel Kneen with Nepal course delegatesPeople suffering conditions such as burns and cancer in one of the world’s poorest countries are benefiting from improved treatment and care thanks to a special relationship between medics at Alder Hey and their counterparts at a hospital in South Asia.

Sian Falder, Consultant Plastic Surgeon and Barry Pizer, Consultant Paediatric Oncologist are amongst a team of specialists from Alder Hey that pay regular visits to the Kanti Children’s Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, to share their skills and expertise.

Whilst Sian and her team have assisted Nepalese doctors and nurses to improve and update their skills, helping to save lives, Barry has helped the hospital to develop its Oncology Unit and set out treatment protocols.

Alder Hey’s international projects aim to teach, train and mentor the doctors and nurses who battle to care for and treat patients in harsh conditions that attract little investment.

Arriving in NepalThe outcome for children with cancer is poor in Nepal, for example just 20% of children with leukaemia are cured, compared with a cure rate of 80% in the UK. However the Oncology Unit is now developing thanks to Barry, with plans to establish a secure supply of drugs, improve supportive care and establish systems for patient follow-up.

Sian highlights the fact that  developing countries, nearly four million women each year are severely burnt, mainly from cooking fires, with more school-age children dying of burns each year than tuberculosis or malaria.

“I believe the human cost of burns has been inexplicably overlooked when you consider the distribution of global aid and feel we have a moral obligation to share our expertise,” said Sian.

“For every death, many more suffer life-altering contractures and disability from even minor burns and scalds. However, relatively simple interventions such as early skin grafting, more effective painkillers, use of splints and better nutrition can help people make a good recovery and have a considerably better quality of life.”

Sian’s successes include helping her Nepali counterparts operate on a six-year-old girl who had suffered 40% burns from a cooking fire. The child and her mother had walked for four days to get to the hospital and she survived mainly thanks to swift skin grafts that she would not otherwise have had.

The link between the two hospitals first began in 1994 during a trek to Nepal by Carmel Dersch, a former manager at Alder Hey. She visited the Kanti Hospital and, on her return home, formed a small Liverpool based charity ‘So the Child May Live.’

Since then, the link has gone from strength to strength, underpinned by a memorandum of understanding, an ‘official’ agreement that sets out the terms of the relationship.

The multi-disciplinary team now involved in the Alder Hey-Kanti link, also includes other consultants such as neurologist Rachel Kneen, nurses and therapists as well as resuscitation officer Pete Arrowsmith.  In fact, just before Christmas Pete was in Kanti with a biomedical engineer, repairing medical equipment and teaching Kanti staff how to restore donated equipment which has broken.

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