After the establishment of an operating theater with the installation of the necessary devices at the Bir Clinic in 2019, the plastic surgery camp planned with INTERPLAST Germany last year had to be canceled until further notice due to the worldwide pandemic of Covid 19.
The Tibetan clinic continues its services, but all patients have to get treated as a precautionary measure by nurses and the doctor in an open tent outside the clinic since the onset of the pandemic.
This includes examining ill patients and administering medication, examinations and vaccinations of babies, children and adults, daily blood tests and physiotherapy treatments.
Critically ill or injured patients are transported by ambulance, recently provided by donations from the Tibetan government in exile, to the hospital in the larger and closer city, Palampur.
Medical Clinic in Bir
The Humanitarian Association ART’TIBET CHAM SEM supports the Tibetan Clinic in Bir, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. Its aim is to improve Health Care for Tibetan refugee communities and the Indian population.
Til this day, Tibetan refugees are still arriving from Tibet and settling in the village of Bir and ist surroundings. They form Tibetan settlements amidst the Indian population. Around 10 000 Tibetan and Indian people now live in Bir.
To preserve their culture and language, the refugee Tibetans have established eight traditional Buddhist monasteries with a total of around 3000 monks and nuns.
Under the responsability of the Tibetan government in exile, the Tibetan Clinic – run by Tibetan health care professionals – provides medical care for the entire population of Bir, but particularly for the Tibetans, including several schools, an Old People’s Home, and the many monks and nuns.
The doctor and a few nurses in the clinic only administer allopathic medicine. This includes vaccinations according to Indian standards, mother & child care and prevention and treatment of the tuberculosis and hepatitis B.
On average, 30 patients a day are treated in the Tibetan clinic. The staff also regularly undertakes home visits for patients who can’t get to the clinic. The doctor treats around 8 000 patients a year and refers another 3 000 to hospital.
The Tibetan Clinic offers medical treatment and medicine free of charge to all patients who cannot afford to pay.
This represents almost all Tibetan refugees, as well as the monks and nuns, but also many Indians.
A physiotherapist and a dentist also treat patients on these premises. Medicines can be obtained on site from a small pharmacy.
The clinic is on two levels. The rooms on the ground floor serve as the clinic. The first floor houses the health care staff and their families.
Today the clinic’s facilities consist of several basic rooms, including two consultation rooms, a small surgery unit with a patient room for several patients, a laboratory and an office.
In case of emergency, or for childbirth, the nearest hospital is 30 km away, at Palampur. However, few Tibetans in Bir are in possession of a car. They are therefore dependant exclusively on the clinic.
In 2014, Art’Tibet Cham Sem is taking on a new project, the further development of this primary health center.
The idea at the outset is to improve the facility and the care provided to patients. It was crucial to start renovating the sanitary facilities and few rooms, the plumbing, creating drainage drains in the yard and finally buying bedding and last not least to acquire medical equipment for better medical care.
The meeting of Interplast Bad Kreuznach, a German non-profit organization specializing in reconstructive and restorative surgery opens up new horizons for our team. These surgeons organize, on a voluntary basis with a team, completely free surgeries in hospitals in developing countries.
In 2015, they went to the clinic and received 40 patients, both children and adults, with burn scars. At the end of this visit, the doctors decided to cooperate with Art’Tibet to help improving the clinic with a view to creating an operating theatre that would allow them to intervene with patients, in cooperation with the nearest Indian clinic.
Interplast offered Art’Tibet Cham Sem technical guidelines, and the operating theatre was gradually built and equipped. It will have a wide range of uses, since it will allow, in addition to this reconstruction surgery project, small operations to be carried out, as well as sutures,
deliveries and medical procedures in a sterile environment.
The medical equipment offered by Interplast allows patients to be diagnosed on site, in Bir: medical analysis devices, for blood and urine analysis as well as for detecting and controlling diabetes (many are diabetics among Tibetans), as well as surgical instruments : an operating and delivery table, a patient monitor, several IV poles, three OT stand lights, as well as the creation of an equipped patient room with four hospital beds.
The doctor’s and nurses’ examination rooms, the corridors, the main entrance and the kitchen still have to be renovated, which at present do not qualify for proper hospital service.