A day in the life of a mobile doctor
The Trust has 12 mobile doctors and a further 12 nurses who trek deep into the hills to treat housebound Gurkhas in need of medical care.We recently caught up with Dr Khimesh to see what a day in the life of a GWT mobile doctor in Nepal looks like.
A video summary is above or the full interview transcript is below.
1. Describe your personal background
My parents were originally from a village in the remote hills of Baglung District, which is about 280KM west from Kathmandu. My father is an ex-Gurkha of the 6th Gurkha Rifles and my mum is a housewife. After he joined the Army, we moved to Kathmandu where I was able to finish secondary school.
Then I went to China to study medicine in Zhengzhou University, which is located in Henan Province of Central China, and graduated with an MBBS. I have been a doctor now for five years, and before I joined GWT, I worked mainly in the Emergency and Medical Departments.
2. What is your motivation for working for GWT?
As I said earlier, my parents were not very well off and it was only after my father became a British Gurkha that it was possible for us to live in Kathmandu and for me to study Medicine. So, for this I thank the British Gurkhas and the Gurkha community. And working for GWT has been a wonderful opportunity for me to help our Gurkha veterans and their communities and to accomplish my aim of giving something back to the community.
3. Describe a typical day as a mobile doctor
The details of the patients to be visited would be handed to me by the Area Welfare Officer before the field visit and I would need to sort the patients’ record cards with the Medical Assistant’s help. Either the Area Welfare Officer or his Assistant would come with me on the field visit along with one of the orderlies who would assist with carrying the medicines required for the trip.
On the day of the visit, we would take a bus or jeep to as far as it would take us over rough and bumpy dirt tracks, and then walk to the village. This could be anything from an hour to several hours up and down hill trails.
Upon arrival at the welfare pensioner’s house, we would be greeted by him or her and their family and be given some water to drink. A cup of tea would follow. I would then examine the pensioner using the instruments made available to me by GWT. I would also give him medicine if they needed it and teach their guardians how to administer the dosage.
If they needed to go to hospital for further treatment, I would advise them to do so. We would then say goodbye, and move on to the next house or village.
We would have lunch along the route at a tea house if there was one or eat what food the pensioner’s family would be able to make for us. Depending on the number of visits we had planned, we would continue in this way and return to the Area Welfare Centre at the end of the day. At other times, we would spend several days going from village to village.
4. Most memorable experience as a GWT doctor?
One particular moment comes to mind. It was on a field trip to a village called Samdi, in a remote part of the District of Tanahun. We were welcomed by a group of ex-servicemen and their family members. They had a special welcome program arranged especially for us and I as the GWT doctor was their chief guest.
They played traditional musical instruments and entertained us with folk songs and dances. They had also prepared some special traditional Nepalese dishes for us. And at the end of the evening, one of the pensioners kindly invited us to stay with his family in his mud and stone hut, as there are no hotels in the areas we operate in.
They gave us their best room to sleep in and gave us their cleanest blankets. They were very generous and humble people and made me feel so special. I think it is one night and one village that I will never forget.
5. What is your proudest moment as a GWT doctor?
Well, the day I got selected to become a GWT doctor was one of the proudest days of my life. It was my dream ever since I became a doctor.
6. What are the most common illnesses encountered?
The most common diseases we come across are high blood pressure, diseases of the chest and lungs, diabetes and osteoarthritis. Quite a few of our pensioners smoke, whilst osteoarthritis is probably due to the day to day physical hardship of life in the remote hilly regions.
7. How do you enjoy working with our Welfare Pensioners?
As I come from a Gurkha family myself, I feel like they are like my own parents or grandparents and I feel connected to them. They also treat me in the same way, as their son or grandson.
Pensioners know that the GWT doctor is not like any other doctor. They treat us like their own, as if we are one of their family members. And for me, as a GWT doctor, this is a fantastic experience, especially being able to go out into the hills to help our old and infirm pensioners who cannot come down to the towns and cities.