Tibetans preserve their unique culture.
Trip Report July 2004
Submitted September 11, 2004
By Drs. Candace Cole and Robbie
In advance of the trip, medicines worth an estimated
$6000 were collected, through targeted donations from doctors
and pharmacies (e.g. antihypertensives, anti-inflammatories,
antibiotics, vitamins); significant contributions were gathered
from from Toronto, Ottawa, Duncan, B.C., and Moscow, Idaho.
An order for key medications was placed with Can-MAP for purchase
at reduced rates for charitable health work in developing countries.
Many thanks for the many people who volunteered their time to
gather the materials, Conrad for organizing the lists, purchase
orders, etc. Altogether the medicines weighed around 100 lbs.
health team accompanying Zasep Rinpoche on his 2004 trip to
Zadoh consisted principally of Candace Cole MD, Rob Chase MD.
Eric Field and Anneli Arrak were also on the trip and helped
out in various ways, particularly with waiting patients and
providing supportive treatments.
When we arrived in Beijing
June 30, we were generously helped by Mrs. Bai Ling, aunt of
Anna Wong, Vancouver Island dentist and overseas volunteer,
to arrange for shipping by train to Xining so as to avoid the
heavy excess baggage penalties on internal Chinese flights.
Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province, we picked up the
shipment at the train station and next day hired a van to take
us to Yushu, the head town of Zadoh's prefecture in the southeast
corner of the province. Considerable improvements on the long
road across Qinghai Province have been made; the trip, which
took us 26-30 hours by bus three years ago, took us 15 hours
On arrival to Yushu, we had the very good fortune
of meeting up with Choetso Drolma, the young Tibetan woman and
Rokpa student, one of the six who were sponsored by Rokpa to
come to Vancouver to learn English in 2003. She now studies
Tibetan and Chinese medicine. She was able to accompany us throughout
our trip and served as a very capable translator throughout.
To briefly summarize, we set up our clinic
and pharmacy wherever we went. With Drolma as translator, we
could function fairly independently from Rinpoche, freeing him
up to do his work. Altogether we saw 326 patients. We recorded
names, health complaints, examinations, and medications and
management advice. The records can be analyzed and classified
for further information.
Our locations during the trip included:
Neem Do Gompa July 7, 8 (a secluded Kagyu monastery near Jamseng
valley, and home to Dr. Shamar the doctor at Jamseng clinic)
Zadoh town (July 8-10) we saw a few individuals, particularly
some lamas with significant health problems; we did not set
up a clinic at the town hospital as in 2001, preferring to focus
on providing care in more rural areas.
3. Jamseng Health
Centre (July 11, 12, 13) We used the health center for several
busy days where we saw as many people as we could.
Gompa nunnery July 14, 15, and August 1,2: seeing nuns and old
5. Jamdak's camp (Rinpoche's brother) July 16,17,
18, 19 for local nomads
6. Tashi Lapug July 20,21,23,24,25.
There was a large gathering of local people who came to attend
the Vairochana initiation. For three mornings we ran a clinic
out of a separate tent, seeing all the monks with health problems
on the first day. One of the head lamas of the monastery is
Lo Chu Rinpoche, who is a Tibetan and Chinese doctor. We were
able to provide him with and teach him about the basics of hypertensive
diagnostic equipment and treatment. Patients will be able to
follow up with him. There is a building in the monastery compound
that can be converted into a clinic; Lo Chu Rinpoche is interested
in providing health care to the community on an ongoing basis;
plans are to provide him with more medicine supplies. Eighteen
of the 20 monks seen with health complaints had stomach problems,
likely related to poor water quality and sanitary conditions
with respect to food preparation. We made a general presentation
to the abbots and monks about our concerns and the potential
for prevention of health problems with a secure water source,
waste hygiene and hand washing. It was the first time this issue
had been raised and we felt prospects were good that they would
find ways to improve sanitary conditions and ultimately train
the surrounding communities in these areas.
7. Chipu valley
(Rinpoche's childhood valley, a day's horseback ride out of
Zadoh town) July 29-31
Jamseng Health Centre and Program
The health center is being well used by local people.
Dr. Shamar is quite busy providing both Tibetan and Chinese
medical care. With the permission of his abbot Dr. Shamar agreed
to stay on as the health center doctor for another three years.
Whereas on the 2001 trip there was no suitable doctor at Jamseng
to hand over the medicine and equipment, this time we could
translate to Shamar the indications, dosages, and cautions for
many of our basic medical supplies and equipment, and arrange
that patients started on long-term treatment e.g. for hypertension,
return to see him for ongoing care.
The books and other
resources in Tibetan that the Vancouver committee had gathered
from the Kunde Foundation and Hesparian Foundation (Where There
is no Doctor) were very welcomed and will be a big help. Plans
were discussed to provide better accommodation for very sick
people and their families while they stay at the health centre,
and to acquire land adjacent to the health center compound for
growing vegetables and medicinal herbs.
A major objective
of the trip was to ascertain the level of need among rural women
particularly issues of maternal health, and access to prenatal
care, preventive measures, care at the time of delivery, and
for newborns and infants. Candace and Drolma interviewed several
women patients in some depth to better appreciate issues of
pregnancy, delivery, causes for morbidity and mortality, infant
care, birth control, traditional birth attendants and how receptive
local women and families would be to improved services.
and the Jamseng heath committee at Jamseng held lengthy discussions
on the subject to enquire these same issues. This was audio-recorded
and will be made available to the Vancouver committee. Both
Dr. Shamar and Dr. Ledar (head of the Jamseng health committee)
agreed that this was a priority area. They welcomed the idea
of providing better services, acknowledging that a male doctor-monk
is not readily approached by women with gynecological or obstetrical
problems, nor does he have complete training in these areas.
Ledar mentioned that a niece of his, Kazon Palmo lives in a
nearby village (1/2-day's horseback ride away) and last year
had 3 month's training by Jimpa in midwifery. We subsequently
met with her on two occasions to discuss a role for her to help
provide data gathering, improved care and preventive education
at the Jamseng clinic.
We arranged that she come to the
center for one day, twice a month, to see women and infants.
Both she and Dr. Shamar will write notes and reports on matters
regarding maternal and child health that arise over the next
year. Kazon will phone Drolma on a monthly basis to report on
her work; Drolma will be in touch by email with Rinpoche, Robbie
We also made some progress in sourcing out
medicine supplies in China. On the last day in China Robbie
spoke at some length to Lee Weingrad, who lives in Beijing and
coordinates the Surmong Foundation's health project in the Yushu
area. He offered to share his lists and means of procuring Chinese
manufactured pharmaceuticals, so that Jamseng and Tashi Lapug
clinics can be re-supplied within China, rather than requiring
shipments from Canada.
In summary, this
year's health care trip was a great success in many respects:
the Jamseng health center is functioning well and provided an
excellent place to set up our clinic.
2. In both Jamseng
and Tashi Lapug, there were trained doctors with whom we were
comfortable to hand over medicine and diagnostic equipment and
who could provide ongoing care to patients on their local area.
This requires maintaining supplies of medicines to be procured
3. With Dr. Candace on the team and Drolma
as translator, the medical team functioned more independently
of Rinpoche's duties, and was more conducive to the needs of
Tibetan women with health problems.
4. We accomplished a
great deal in organizing improved services in the area of maternal
Plans To Do
1. Dub recording of Jamseng
maternal health discussion for Vancouver committee to provide
them with more detailed information. Candace would be happy
to meet with the Jamseng Health Committee in Vancouver in November
to show slides and discuss and issues in more detail.
Lee Weingrad: Surmong's medicine lists; negotiate how best to
buy and ship medicines for Tashi Lapug and Jamseng to Jamdak
-- should be done by end of November at the latest.