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A visit to the Duncan Hospital

Earlier this year, and before the scale of the coronavirus pandemic was fully apparent, Professor Gordon Mackay and his wife Jackie visited the Duncan Hospital in Bihar, India. Here he reflects on developments at the hospital as it continues to grow to meet the needs of its surrounding communities.

Jackie and I were delighted to have the opportunity to revisit The Duncan in February of this year. It was a special occasion as it was for the official opening of the new MacDonald Block which was understandably a cause for significant celebration. It also allowed us to catch up with our close friends and see the progress made by the hospital since our last visit. We attended on this occasion with good friends from Sydney, Australia, Mark and Debbie Edinburg, who had recently retired from running a busy surgical practice. We had a lovely welcome when we arrived, having travelled via Kathmandu, and although there were some difficulties on the border, we were able to enter pretty much as planned.

As always, we were very warmly welcomed, and Saira and Prabhu took time to show us around the Campus, highlighting the recent developments and the exciting plans for the future going forward. We initially visited the Mother & Child Block, which now has an extensive solar panel system on the roof which helps to support the Labour Room and the Paediatric Intensive Care facility. There are also plans for a CT scanner to be installed, although the solar input will be insufficient for the associated energy demands. Also, as the state of Bihar develops, regulation has become tighter and expectations for effluent and sewage treatment have increased. The hospital has therefore developed a four-stage integrated system and we’re told that fish can now swim in the effluent from the hospital. Truly quite miraculous considering the limitations of the location.

The hospital has a seasonal level of activity, and this was a quieter point in the calendar, but the Mother & Child facility was still extremely busy.

Jackie and I were delighted to cut the ribbon at the official opening of The MacDonald Block, which acknowledged the generous contribution from the MacDonald family and their charity towards the support of The Duncan Hospital. We also moved into the community and had an opportunity to see how community services are evolving. We were very impressed by the community Dental facility and antenatal support, along with some of the associated educational outreach which addresses issues of education, hygiene and in particular, the wellbeing of young females. The Management Team took time to share their ambitious plans for The Duncan going forward and were looking forward to the development of the Nursing School and the associated accommodation. There is now a detailed plan for up to 2024 for completion of the next phase of this ambitious project. The plans and drawings certainly looked very impressive.

As always, the hospitality was very generous and we were inundated with traditional home cooking which we thoroughly enjoyed. With the departure of Saira, whose contribution has been immeasurable, Prabhu has now taken over the management of the hospital. We know, therefore, that The Duncan remains in excellent hands as they face the current and future challenges. Following an emotional farewell, we completed our trip with a day trekking in the foothills around Kathmandu, already looking forward to our next visit to The Duncan.


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