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Nomadicare Rural Health Project

Region: Central Asia, Mongolia
Author: Sas Carey, NOMADICARE
Consortium Member: Virtual Foundation Director (ECOLOGIA)
Status: Needs Funding Budget: $0 Collected: $0 Needs: $0
Goal: To enable doctors from rural regions of Mongolia to learn how to combine traditional Mongolian medicine practices with Western style medicine;
To provide 12 soum (rural regional) hospitals in southern Mongolia with medical laboratory equipment and training in its use.

Budget: 103,800 Collected: 58,345 Needs: 45,455

Donors: Anonymous, Louisiana [August 2007]; The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation [May 2010], The Vermont Community Foundation [May 2010], individual donors
Comment: Traditional medical techniques are sustainable and practical for use in public health work. Doctors and other health professionals already trained in Western medicine will add traditional knowledge to their practices. This project is the culmination of Nomadicare's over 15 years of working with medical issues and personnel in Mongolia.


Vision

The Mongolian Medicine Project is committed to equalizing health care for rural Mongolians by strengthening the local public health system through increasing capacity for quality assessment and treatment. Photos of the South Gobi population to be served by this project were taken by Sas Carey.

Background

Traditional Mongolian medicine is a culturally appropriate and sustainable method of treating residents of Central Asia. Currently practicing doctors already have medical degrees (MDs), but their training under the Soviet-dominated system was focused exclusively on Western, technologically driven medicine. In the countryside, Mongolian Medicine was forbidden during the Soviet period and has not yet returned in many areas. With growing interest in the worth and value of traditional medical practices, an increasing number of Mongolian doctors wish to learn the traditional healing arts. In the rural areas especially, doctors lack the tools and supplies to assess and treat illnesses with Western medicine, giving them another incentive to incorporate traditional medicine into their practices.

Implementation

This project will provide a six-week training program in traditional medicine, for 15 rural doctors from South Gobi Aimag (Province).

The program will be taught by Buddhist lama doctors of the medical Manba Datsun Monastery, lay Mongolian Medicine doctors and Sas Carey of Nomadicare in Vermont. It will combine traditional Mongolian knowledge and skills with Western methods of experiential learning, and Western models of ethical treatment of patients.

There are fifteen county hospitals in South Gobi province; the main doctor from each hospital will be invited to attend. The program will be held in the provincial capital city, Dalangazad. This location is much closer and less expensive than traveling all the way to UlaanBataar (the capital city of Mongolia). Dalangazad provides more comfortable surroundings, and much less expensive food and lodging than in the large city. Provincial health ministers are backing this program, demonstrating local understanding and support.

This training program in Dalangazad will be a pilot project (testing, evaluating, revision) with the doctors in South Gobi Province. Replication in the other provinces of Mongolia is planned for future years. When the doctors finish the training, there will be appropriate media promotion offering the benefits of traditional medicine to the local population.

Progress Report, January 2005
Sarantuya of Mandakh Sum, East Gobi, is a Soviet-trained rural doctor from Manlai Soum, a county hospital in the South Gobi region. (Her hospital was one of the first recipients of a laboratory from the Mongolian Medicine Project, in 2002. Sarantuya is standing, fifth from left, in the photo below.)


Photo: Manlai Sum Hospital Staff receiving bins of medical laboratory and supplies from Mongolian Medical Project, 2002

In 2004, the Mongolian Medicine Project provided Sarantuya with its first scholarship ($850) for a year-long course at the Health and Sciences University in Ulaanbaatar. At the end of this process, she earned a certificate in Traditional Mongolian Medicine.

The cost of supporting this one doctor, and the reluctance of many other qualified applicants to live and work for a year in UlaanBataar away from their families and communities, led the Mongolian Medicine Project to reconsider its training design, and to shift to the more locally based shorter program we are planning for 2007.

Expected Results

One doctor in each of the fifteen hospitals in South Gobi Province will have expanded capacity to assess and treat patients locally. Each doctor will then be able to train other medical personnel to support the use of Mongolian Medicine in his or her hospital.

Time Frame Three months

Budget
Salary of Mongolian project team $1490
Training materials (handbooks, etc.) $1088
Medicine tools, herbs, books $2000
Off-site clinical training (7 days room and board)$894
On-site training cost (38 days room and board)$6333
Transportation (to training; to off-site clinical)$3800
Promotion (press, ads, media)$1000
Sas Carey stipend - two months fundraising, planning, implementing$4000
Virtual Foundation fee $1084
Total Requested $21689
Note: The Buddhist lamas will not accept any money for their participation in the program.