Nurse Manju is the first specialist palliative care nurse in Nepal. Tony Gaston of EMMS International and Philip Diamond of The McClay Foundation visited her to see what difference she was making to those in need.
Watching Nurse Manju in action, it was very evident that she is someone well suited to a role as a palliative care nurse. During our short time with Manju, one patient we met, Bishnu, was suffering from incurable lung cancer. Bishnu was in her 70s and came to the mission hospital with her two sons. Bishnu was clearly very distressed when we met her, audibly crying out in pain, something that none of us found easy to see and hear.
With her hand on Bishnu’s knee, Manju carefully sat and listened to Bishnu pour out her heart, telling Manju that she wished to die. As she spoke and as Manju listened, Bishnu’s body language changed. No longer uptight and crying out in agony, she became more peaceful and more calm as she received the care she had so desperately needed.
This compassionate, listening ear was very powerful, like a form of pain relief in itself. It wasn’t just evident to us as onlookers but it was something that Manju gave testimony to again and again. Manju recommended that Bishnu stay overnight and be observed. Manju ordered further x-rays and gave Bishnu more pain relief throughout the night. Bishnu responded well to the pain relief and walked home the next morning, calm and pain-free.
It is hard to think that there are an estimated 125,000 people like Bishnu currently living in Nepal with a terminal illness and with no such care available to them. Now, thanks to the support of The McClay Foundation, we are about to embark upon the next stage of this innovative project, which will be to construct a palliative care Centre of Excellence, providing many more patients like Bishnu with the dignity, respect and care they deserve.
his palliative care Centre of Excellence will be situated at Pokhara, in the foothills of the Annapurna Range in the Himalayas. The centre will bring holistic care to people suffering from terminal or chronic illnesses, as well as those who have suffered from long term injuries. This centre will be a source of restoration and hope for people, giving life to days, not just days to life.