• Patient Education

    By providing simple explanations, we help patients understand their health concerns and make informed choices regarding their care.
  • Research Focused

    Conducting research studies and documenting patient cases helps us analyze the efficacy of our clinic and contribute to the body of evidence that supports our project model.
  • Providing Access

    According to the World Health Organization, Nepal's healthcare system ranks 150th in the world with less than one doctor per 6000 people.
  • Effective Treatment

    Frequent, focused treatments allow us to see positive changes in a patient's condition quickly.
  • more than acupuncture

    Our volunteers include massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, naturopaths, as well as nurses, nurse practitioners and allopathic physicians.
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Our Mission

Our unique model provides effective, efficient, primary care in rural Nepal. Read More
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Our Clinics

Since 2008, our clinics have provided over 350,000 primary care visits. Read More
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Our Partners

Influencing government policy and achieving educational goals. Read More
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Volunteer With Us

We need your help. Serve others while learning new skills. Read More
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Our Evidence

Case studies and field research helps us analyze our efficacy. Read More
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VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY CARE CLINICS IN NEPAL

Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in the world and has been plagued with political unrest and military conflict for the past decade. In 2015, a pair of major earthquakes devastated this small and fragile country. 

Since 2008, the Acupuncture Relief Project has provided over 300,000 treatments to patients living in rural villages outside of Kathmandu Nepal. Our efforts include the treatment of patients living without access to modern medical care as well as people suffering from extreme poverty, substance abuse and social disfranchisement.

Common conditions include musculoskeletal pain, digestive pain, hypertension, diabetes, stroke rehabilitation, uterine prolapse, asthma, and recovery from tuberculosis treatment, typhoid fever, and surgery.

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Featured Case Studies

  • Chronic Non-Healing Ear Ulcers +

    15-year-old female presents with purulent, non-healing ulcers in the right ear canal. After 20 treatments, using an integrative Read More
  • Painful Ulcerations of the Throat with Chronic Sinusitis +

    28-year-old male presents with chronic sinusitis, nasal blockage, throat pain and ulcerations for 18 months. The patient also Read More
  • Bell’s Palsy (Facial Paralysis) +

    A 50-year-old female with Bell’s palsy presents with hemi-facial paralysis involving the eye and the mouth. After 5 Read More
  • Lumbar Stenosis due to Osteoartritis +

    36-year-old female with lumbar spinal stenosis presents with severe low back pain with referred pain down the posterior Read More
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Compassion Connect : Documentary Series

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    In the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, this episode explores the challenges of providing basic medical access for people living in rural areas.

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    Episode 1: Rural Primary Care

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    Acupuncture Relief Project tackles complicated medical cases through accurate assessment and the cooperation of both governmental and non-governmental agencies.

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    EPISODE 2: INTEGRATED MEDICINE

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    Cooperation with the local government yields a unique opportunities to establish a new integrated medicine outpost in Bajra Barahi, Makawanpur, Nepal.

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    EPISODE 3: WORKING WITH THE GOVERNMENT

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    Complicated medical cases require extraordinary effort. This episode follows 4-year-old Sushmita in her battle with tuberculosis.

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    EPISODE 4: CASE MANAGEMENT

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    Drug and alcohol abuse is a constant issue in both rural and urban areas of Nepal. Local customs and few treatment facilities prove difficult obstacles.

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    EPISODE 5: SOBER RECOVERY

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    Interpreters help make a critical connection between patients and practitioners. This episode explores the people that make our medicine possible and what it takes to do the job.

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    EPISODE 6: THE INTERPRETERS

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    This episode looks at the people and the process of creating a new generation of Nepali rural health providers.

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    EPISODE 7: FUTURE DOCTORS OF NEPAL

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    In this 2011, documentary, Film-maker Tristan Stoch successfully illustrates many of the complexities of providing primary medical care in a third world environment.

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    COMPASSION CONNECTS: 2012 PILOT EPISODE

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From Our Blog

 

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Oscar Hewitt

It has been a pleasure to spend two months as part of the project living and working with the people of Sipadol and Bhaktapur.

In retrospect my role as a healthcare practitioner here has often been more one of a sports therapist and a personal trainer than I had envisaged. What constitutes the daily grind over here would be seen more as an athletic pursuit in the UK. All through the day you see the village women in their colourful saris and flimsy flip flops bobbing up and down along the near vertical paths through the valley with a giant pile of logs in a basket hanging from their heads.

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Oscar Hewitt

Sometimes I would ask the patients if their pain was better and would get the reply "a little bit" or often just "no". Initially this would leave me feeling a bit deflated; however, later I started asking how the farm work was going and would get responses like "Oh yes I could harvest a lot more potatoes yesterday"! At this point the penny dropped. It became clear to me that my job was about keeping these folks at the top of their game. The only difference between these hard-grafting subsistence farmers in the steep slopes of the Himalayan foothills and professional athletes is that here the physical exertion comes out of pure necessity. If the potatoes aren't harvested the family will get less food on the table. It would become an ongoing joke in the clinic as I would ask them not to carry too much weight on their heads or stop harvesting the wheat when their back starts to ache and the very next day they would come in saying "it was better before I was working and then...".

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Oscar Hewitt

This said, they would still keep turning up in the morning and with our palms joined together in prayer position we would respectfully "namaste" and then begin our session.

From this point my focus shifted to how to make my treatments last. I started applying sports tape to take the strain off an inflamed achilles or plantar fascia when negotiating the steep trails around the village, I used herbal pastes, compresses and liniments that patients could go away with, I would have mini revelations whilst going for walks in the hills, my quads in full engagement stepping down unforgivably steep paths thinking, "So this is why everyone has knee pain here… Right! So how can I apply this knowledge in the clinic?" To have the time and space to commit to adapting my skills and techniques to the people I was working with was an invaluable opportunity and one which began to pay off in the smiles and waves I would receive around the village. 

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Oscar Hewitt

The most challenging difficulty, which is by no means unique to Nepal but was quite common, is getting people to really connect with what is going on inside their bodies during a session. Many people will have pushed through their chronic pain for so many years that they would not be able to accurately determine where they had their problems. Often they might just point vaguely at their legs, back, neck, arms, head, or all of the above and then just say "dhukksa'" or "pain" in Nepali. The danger of this I felt at times was becoming too focussed on chasing pain. I wanted to avoid the tendency to just stick needles in where it hurts (a frequent request). This could verge on becoming a sort of "cathartic pain exorcism" which I don't find to be of much use to anyone. 

This is not a matter of intellect or cultural nuance but, I would suggest, is the strange and elusive nature of chronic pain and suffering itself. Its insidious and pervasive presence makes a transition at some point from being an interference in one’s life to an unwelcome part of life. This process, at the physical level, involves a lot of neural adaptation that amplifies the intensity of the signal and increases our reactivity to it, whilst at the same time obscuring the specific and the detail.  

Acupuncture Relief Project  | Good Health Nepal | Oscar Hewitt

On the other side you have the emotional and mental adaptation to pain. It is not compatible with our existence and perception of self so we ignore it, block it out and often, in effect, disconnect a part of ourselves from our kinaesthetic body map. Invariably you see these mechanisms outliving their usefulness and becoming a part of people’s existence at great cost. I am interested in interrupting the cycle, opening up to other sensations or conflicting signals. In Nepal, like anywhere, people fight chronic pain every day. It is a big part of my job to bring them from fighting it to managing it. If one doesn't feel what is going on, how does one change it?

The level of commitment on behalf of the patients to attend so regularly, which was so important to the treatment outcomes, was only made possible by the very low cost service that is provided by the acupuncture relief project and its sister NGO run by the esteemed Ayurvedic doctor, Sarita Shrestha. In a society where many people, through fears of unaffordable hospital bills, are more likely to visit their pharmacy for a relatively indiscriminate handful of drugs than see a doctor, the work done here is worth so much more. It is more than just the acupuncture, massage, moxa or cupping itself. It also extends its roots far deeper into the community. It is a place where people can become informed, aware and proactive about their health as well as providing a safe and constructive place to share the burden of their pain with one another. In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that touched so many here this is all the more important. From providing treatment and basic healthcare advice to giving shelter and basic sanitation in hours of need, I believe this grass-roots community work to be at the heart of good healthcare. ---Oscar Hewitt

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