A new lifesaving Trauma and Emergency Centre for Nepal's flagship leprosy hospital
A new centre housing an A&E department, maternity unit, paediatric department and a critical care unit has opened at Anandaban Hospital in Nepal, after an overwhelming response to The Leprosy Mission's UK Aid Match appeal in 2019 has made plans for the state-of-the-art facility a reality.
The UK public took the Heal Nepal campaign to find and cure new leprosy patients in Nepal and care for them at Anandaban Hospital to their hearts.
So much so that enough money was raised to make the long-term dream of a Trauma and Emergency Centre at Anandaban possible. This was in addition to running the medical outreach and patient care programme to which the UK government awarded UK Aid Match funding for. The three-month appeal saw every pound donated matched by the UK government.
Money from the American Leprosy Missions and US Aid also helped pay for the construction of the new earthquake-proof building. A generous grant from the Haverstock Charitable Trust in Guernsey paid for the construction of four wards, while Guernsey’s Overseas Aid & Development Commission paid for an eco-friendly waste water system.
On Sunday, 18 September, the Minister of Health and Population for Nepal, Mr Bhawani Prasad Khapung, opened the new Trauma and Emergency Centre.
He said: “This has been a great occasion, enabling me to learn about Anandaban Hospital. I’m very impressed by this new facility. This hospital is fundamental not just for people affected by leprosy but for all the people of the area. I am extremely grateful to the donors for their support.”
On the frontline during times of crisis
Sian Arulanantham, Head of Programmes at The Leprosy Mission was in Kathmandu for the 13th Annual Neglected Tropical Disease Conference. She was delighted to attend the special opening ceremony.
Sian said: "It will be such an emotional day for patients, staff, visitors and all involved. Anandaban Hospital and its amazing staff have been a God-send to both leprosy patients and the vast surrounding community in recent years.
"Before the devastating earthquakes of 2015, Anandaban was a little hospital tucked away in the Himalayas. It was a place where people with a much-feared disease were sent to. Somewhere where they are loved and cared for.
"Amid the devastation that followed the 2015 earthquakes, however, the hospital's team were on the frontline. They worked day and night sharing their clinical skills and compassion helping 18,000 earthquake victims. The incredible effort saw the Nepali government designate Anandaban an emergency response centre.
"Then came Covid and, once again, the medical team were at the forefront. They rolled out the vaccine to almost 10,000 people in 2021, either at Anandaban or by providing outreach to the surrounding communities.
"Anandaban Hospital will always be The Leprosy Mission's flagship specialist leprosy hospital. Helping people affected by leprosy, some of the world's most marginalised people, is the reason it exists.
Meeting the needs of the community
"Excitingly, however, we are now able to meet the clinical needs of the surrounding community. Anandaban is located more than an hour's drive from the nearest government hospital. So we are delighted that the new Trauma and Emergency Centre houses a maternity unit as well as a paediatric unit. With many women left to give birth without medical care at home this is such an essential and lifesaving facility.
"It is frightening for us in the UK to comprehend not having access to emergency medicine. Staff working in the new 24-hour A&E department will undoubtedly save countless lives. There are also emergency wards and a critical care unit as well as an X-ray department.
"The new facility will provide many thousands of people in Nepal with the medical care they deserve. At the same time, the new facility will strengthen leprosy services making them more sustainable. We can never thank the UK public enough for making this incredible centre possible."
Article 25 designed and managed the construction of the new Trauma and Emergency Centre. The humanitarian architecture charity began work on the centre in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. The earthquakes, which killed 9,000 people, caused extensive damage to the buildings on the Anandaban Hospital site.
Although building work began in May 2019, there have been unavoidable delays. This was a result of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions preventing construction workers from being able to travel to the site.
Gemma Holding is Managing Director of London-based Article 25. She said: "The Trauma and Emergency Centre is designed and constructed to rigorous safety standards. This is necessary so that it can withstand and continue providing medical services and injured people in an earthquake zone.
“There is natural ventilation in the patient rooms and the building uses rainwater harvesting. The new building is completely accessible for wheelchairs and hospital trolleys.
“We are thrilled to continue our work in Nepal with the Leprosy Mission and have begun designing Anandaban Research Centre. This new facility will enable groundbreaking research to continue to help end leprosy globally.”
Photo credit: Tom Bradley