Okhaldhunga Community Hospital – an extraordinary hospital

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Dr. Erik Bøhler gives a tour of the hospital. Photo: Hedda Larsen Borgan

The Norwegian ambassador attended the 55th anniversary of Okhaldhunga Community Hospital.

The story begins in the sixties, when a small hospital was established in the village of Okhaldhunga. Since then the hospital has gradually grown, and now 50 new bed spots are available. What differentiates the hospital from similar development projects in Nepal, is that it is primarily financed by donations from private persons. United Mission to Nepal runs the hospitaltogether with the Norwegian organization Normisjon. Erik and Kristin Bøhler have been based in Okhaldhunga for 13 years through Normisjon.

It was a solemn and festive opening. A tour of both new and old hospital buildings was given, speeches from politicians and other supporters were held as well as cultural performances and of course a feast. – We are happy to be associated with the great work that is being done in Okhaldhunga, H.E. Kjell Tormod Pettersen praised during his celebration speech.

Mother's Waiting Home
A unique measure at the hospital, is that they have a waiting home for mothers to be. Here, young mothers and fathers arrive some days before birth, so they can relax and prepare for what is to come. Many of those who come to the hospital are poor, and often several days walk to reach the hospital. – This journey can be dangerous if the woman is already in labor, so we are very proud of the waiting home, Erik Bøhler, the only fulltime doctor in the hospital, explains.

(Re)construction work
After the massive earthquakes in 2015, there has been a great need for reconstruction over Nepal - Okhaldhunga district is no exception. A weakness in the public reconstruction work is that landless people have not been applied to the list of needing people. With help from local resource persons, Erik and Kristin has initiated a project where the focus is to give shelter to people who did not own land before the earthquake. So far they have set up 15 House and they have a goal of 34 houses at the end of 2018.

Biogas-system
The hospital has many creative solutions, among other things; they recently installed a biogas system connected to the Mother’s Waiting Home. This means that the patients can cook without paying for gas, it is a useful and sustainable way to utilize the waste and – best of all – it keeps the forest alive.

The hospital has clearly been important to the local community. It is the only hospital in the area, and therefore serves around 250,000 people. Additionally, the hospital and the community surrounding it, seems to have created an extraordinary cohesion in Okhaldhunga that would be non-existing without strong individuals like the Bøhler-couple.