In India, our International Training Centres constantly receive requests for surgical training from across the border in Nepal. Whilst some vets can make the long journey to take part in our courses, others – often in the districts of Nepal that need it most – are unable to.
That’s why a mission, long in the making, was proposed to train Nepalese vets on their home-ground.
WATCH: Check out the highlights of our time in Nepal.
Here to tell you more about the two-phase outreach programme is Dr. Shruti from the WVS Taskforce.
“After months of planning and meticulous execution, Dr. Amanda and I flew from Delhi, India to Kathmandu, Nepal. The first thing that struck us was the kindness and hospitality of the people of Nepal. We were greeted at the airport by our local partners and spent the day meeting individuals and planning our journey to our first training location in Sindhuli.”
With everything they needed to run a surgical training course packed inside a truck, the team travelled over 80 miles south to Sinduli.
“The road journey to Sindhuli was full of hairpin bends and rocky terrain. We experienced Nepal in all its rugged beauty as we made our way from one province to another! We arrived in Sindhuli at night and by the next day, we were ready to rock and roll WVS style!”
Before the training could begin, the learning space needed to be transformed from a school classroom to a veterinary centre, with everything from an operating theatre to animal-holding kennels.
Once the stage was set, it was time for the course participants to arrive.
“Day one consisted of participant orientation, health and safety briefings as well as pre-assessments. We conducted demo surgeries for the participants and did a dry practice to help them to get a hang of basic gloving and suturing.”
“From day two, we started surgeries!”
“The days went by with students picking up surgery efficiently. Surgical training and daily lectures took over our schedules. In the evenings, we kept busy washing drapes and cleaning instruments, mopping the operating theatre, and feeding the dogs, as we prepared for the next long day of surgeries.”
Under the guidance of our experts and with the help of our specially trained dog-catchers, the group of 10 vets and 10 veterinary assistants performed 157 spay-neuter surgeries throughout the first phase of the programme.
One free morning during the course, Dr. Shruti and the team organised an activity for the participants outside the clinic.
“We called the activity Rabies Awareness Pods or as I like to call it, RAP Battles! We divided the participants into groups and challenged them to walk around the community raising awareness about rabies. The participants were enthusiastic about the challenge! Armed with education flyers, which we had translated into Nepali specifically for the project, they set out to talk to the local people."
Did you know? While rabies is amongst the most deadly of diseases, both for humans and dogs, it is entirely preventable. With 99% of human rabies cases being caused by an infected dog bite, vaccinating dogs and teaching those most at-risk – children under the age of 15 – how to avoid dog bites and the critical steps to take if they are bitten, we can stop the disease in its tracks.
In Nepal whilst completing the activity, the teams encountered a range of local people – from those who’d never heard of rabies to those who’d been bitten by dogs and had to seek post-exposure treatment themselves.
“We spoke to everyone, young and old, with special attention to educating at-risk children, wherever we went.”
Not only did the participants spread the word about the importance of rabies prevention, but they also spoke to the locals about humane animal birth control – and how, during our surgical training course in Nepal, local pets could be neutered safely and expertly by our teams.
“We asked people with pets to drop into the temporary clinic if they wanted their pets neutered. To our surprise, from the very next day, we had 2-3 people admit their pets for surgery after our impromptu awareness drive. All in all, the RAP Battles were a success, and I am happy to report that we reached out to over 500 people in the community with our efforts!”
Whilst in the district of Sinduli, Dr. Shruti alongside Dr. Parikshya, our volunteer, visited local schools to talk about rabies prevention with children – those most at risk of the deadly disease.
“We conducted a Mission Rabies style lesson in Hindi and Nepali for school children aged 11 and 12. In the lesson, we discussed how to act around free-roaming dogs and how to protect yourself from rabies, including dog bite first aid and information on the nearest hospital where post-exposure treatment is available.”
“The students were so attentive and receptive! The ones with pets of their own were told about rabies canine vaccinations, and were asked to immunize their pets regularly.”
“We concluded the session by handing out education flyers and chanting the famous ‘Rabies, down, down!’ war cry as we left the schools! It was what my dreams are made of, raising awareness amongst children in the remotest locations of the world with the hope that one day it will save a child from rabies!"
The mission in Nepal wasn’t only to deliver expert training to vets, but also to veterinary assistants. Ten students in their final year of study at the Sindhuli Community Technical Institute signed up to complete our veterinary assistance course designed to teach best practices.
“They learnt everything from preparing a dog for surgery to arranging the surgical sets. As part of the course, they were taught how to load medications and give I/V, I/M, and S/C injections, as well as use different techniques to humanely handle and restrain dogs and cats.”
“Before we knew it, it was time to go. In two short weeks, we trained 10 vets and 10 veterinary assistants. Farewell WVS style included cake, certificates, and congratulations! We were ecstatic about graduation day but also melancholic about leaving behind a beautiful place and wonderful people whom we had grown so close to in a matter of two weeks! We packed up and left for the next training location, Paklihawa in Lumbini province.”
WATCH: Listen to testimonials from the participants.
Read on to hear more from the participants along with thoughts from past participants and employees who gifted their time and expertise to the project in Nepal.
“I learnt how to perform quality surgery with aseptic techniques in minimum resources. The trainers were very interactive and provided sound knowledge on the various aspects of surgery. This course is going to be very helpful for me in my professional life. I suggest that such a course should be conducted every year in Nepal." – Manoj Adhikari
"WVS ABC Training at Sindhuli has been an amazing course. The programme, including hospitality and overall management and mentorship, was the best of its kind. The days passed with so much learning, a lot of memories, and much-needed surgical skills. Thank you to everyone including all dog-catchers, the efficient management team, and the respected mentors. Their dedication is truly amazing." – Pratik Kiju
"I feel like I have received a great opportunity to be trained under the skilled WVS Surgeons. It was an outstanding training programme, and I am feeling like a confident surgeon after operating only 15 dogs!" – Dr. Raj Chandan Ray
"This is the best training programme I have ever experienced, I would like WVS to organize similar training programmes in Nepal more frequently." – Sudhakar Gupta
"My expectation from WVS Training was not so high, because my expectations from my college were never fulfilled. But I was wrong, in reality, the WVS Training surpassed all my expectations. It was almost difficult for me to believe that I was doing surgery! Later I realized that this was not a dream! The WVS Team is very dedicated. It is as if they have made a promise to teach students under any circumstances. They are all very energetic, punctual, and hardworking. I would like to thank the entire team for training us in fine surgical skills." – Jivan Kharel
“It was my dream to train Nepali Vets IN NEPAL! This project has made that dream come true. I enjoyed volunteering for the training programme, and I’m so happy to be working alongside my WVS colleagues again.” – Dr. Ranjita Bastola, WVS India Employee 2019-2020
“We feel honoured to have graduated from the blue scrub top to the black scrub top. It feels like a promotion! The journey from being trainees to trainers has been wonderful! We have learnt so much and enjoyed the training programme thoroughly.” – Dr. Lebu & Dr. Parikshya, WVS Past Participants/ Volunteers
“I want to thank everyone associated with the course for its success! We all worked so hard and have spent so long planning this project! I want to thank the assistants and dog-catchers, my boys for doing such a tremendous job! I hope we can do such training programmes in collaboration with WVS more frequently as it is the need of the hour in Nepal.” – Dr. Samir Thapa, KATC Head Vet, WVS India Employee 2015-2017
This mission work driven by the WVS Taskforce wouldn't be possible without the support of our local and global partners.
Thank you to Marchig Trust for your ongoing support, and to the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre for your partnership. We're so grateful to our animal handlers, dog-catchers, and skills vet assistants for their tireless efforts in making the training programme a success, and to the Sindhuli Community Technical Institute, our host organisation, for their hospitality.
In the future, the WVS Taskforce is set to deliver its life-saving programmes in Africa. This expansion is thanks to the support of our new partners at the IDEXX Foundation.
The mission in Nepal is just one of the many outreach projects our veterinary teams undertake every year. Visit WVS News for more about our work in rural settings – everywhere from populated islands in Tanzania to wildlife reserves in Malawi.