Providing eye care to Nepal’s most remote communities
You’ve seen breathtaking vistas of the Himalayas or snapshots of Everest’s imposing slopes in one documentary or another. Imagine, then, the cruel irony of being surrounded by such beauty, yet unable to partake of it.
That is the fate of many of Phaplu’s residents, especially the elderly who live well into their eighties in this harsh climate despite the cold, the altitude, and the geographic isolation.
Phaplu – known as the gateway to Everest – is a small town in the Solukhumbu District of eastern Nepal. It is one of the most remote inhabited regions of the country with very little infrastructure and therefore, hardly any access to basic healthcare facilities.
While there is an airport in Phaplu, airfare is far beyond reach for locals. For them to reach Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu, they would have to drive 11 hours up and down winding, mountainous roads. Even if they undertook such a journey, the cost of travel, treatment, and hotels would be prohibitive for most.
Last fall, together with our partners in Nepal, HCP supported a surgical outreach at Tilganga’s Community Eye Center in Phaplu.
Thousands of residents from five rural municipalities gathered in Phaplu for eye screenings and cataract surgeries. Due to the lack of road access, some patients walked as much as 14 hours to attend this latest outreach.
Thanks to the diligent coordination of local community members, the outreach was a tremendous success with 2,256 eye screenings conducted and 83 surgeries performed. Grandparents smiled in child-like wonder upon opening their eyes to the beautiful landscape they had missed for years. Children danced with joy when they removed their bandages to confirm their vision was restored overnight, as if by magic.