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News (September 2003 - August 2004)
 

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The past year has been another very busy one for the Ladakh Heart Foundation (LHF). We have been continuing and extending our activities over Ladakh, trying to prevent and cure all forms of heart disease, while also concerning ourselves with the general health of the local population, which explain the creation, this year, of the Ladakh Institute of Prevention (LIP), dedicated to environmental, occupation, life style related and high altitude diseases. The activities of this newly born institute, with Lama Chogyal as its executive director, are presented in a separated newsletter.  Our efforts (Ladakh Heart Foundation) can be broken down into five main areas:
 
* Primary preventative medicine, including primary prevention of acute rheumatic fever, as in the past years. Lectures and seminars were the main means of communication to impart health education.
* Village clinics in out-lying regions
* The maintenance of a register of all patients in the region, and the continued monitoring of their conditions
* Surgery and diagnostic clinics
* Contributing, in a humble way, to the health care facilities provided by the government by initiating innovative projects, but always with the final objective of creating an environment conducive to make those projects acceptable to the government and the population, which also applies to LIP activities.
 

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In context of the last point, we are delighted to highlight that two of our initiatives are now well accepted both by the government as well as the population. The first one consists in the local government (L.A.H.D.C.) agreeing to bear the expenses incurred on the cardiothoracic surgery (P.D.A. and Mitral Valvotomy) being conducted by Professor Sanpath Kumar, Cardiovascular Surgeon, in the local government owned hospital (S.N.M. Hospital). The initiative and the expenses involved were initially the responsibility of LHF and the Venerable Lama Lobsang, Hon'ble member of Sheduled Tribe Government of India.

Secondly, our primary prevention program against acute rheumatic fever, involving Benzathine Penicillin prophylaxis in children of age 5 to 15 suffering from streptococcal throat infection, is now well accepted by the patients and the medical profession in Ladakh. LHF initiated this program and still bears the expenses. The good outcome of this preventive program has resulted in acceptance by all parties concerned. We look forward to hand it over permanently to the government in near future.

In the meantime, LHF is also proud to announce that the construction of the new hospital has progressed considerably over the last year, as well as the guesthouse attached to it. What follows is a little more detail on the advances that have been made and we include some photos, as well.

 
Lecture Programmes
The lectures are all given by Dr. Norboo, and are designed to educate Ladakh about the ten impending diseases of the new millenium. These are:
 
1) Hypertension
2) High cholesterol
3) Smoking
4) Obesity, leading to diabetes
5) Diet (prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer)
6) Heart Attack
7) Sexually transmitted disease, HIV and AIDS
8) Environmental and occupational health disease
9) Accident prevention
10) Mental health
 

As Ladakh rapidly develops and changes economically and culturally, it is vital that the population understands and can make steps to address these new issues- hypertension is exceptionally common due to the salty diet and local butter tea, and Ladakh has the lowest age of onset of stomach cancer in the world. The information is tailored for the cultural background in which it is to be received

 

Dr. Norboo and other members of the Foundation travel to the villages with the generator and projection equipment of the Ladakh Heart Foundation, where lectures are given in halls, schools, and even outdoor areas at night. The attendance, and attention, at lectures is always high, and the information is always very well received. Whenever possible, the lectures are also given before any clinics, so that diagnoses, blood pressure measurements, and lifestyle advice is better understood. The feedback and questions from villagers is always positive, and lectures often stimulate many more questions. Over the past year, around 6400 children, adults, teacher, and health professionals have heard these lectures.

 
International Seminars

In November 2003, Lama Chogyal was invited by the Tokyo Woman Medical University at the 4th International Symposium on Chronobiology.

Lama Chogyal was also invited to participate in a half hour radio program broadcasted on BBS Radio, in South Korea. Lama Chogyal then had the unique opportunity to present most of the LHF activities in Ladakh, addressing a broad auditory, which gave good results as the Koreans did respond in a very positive way, including some very helpful donations.

 
Village Clinics
Over the course of the past year, approximately 750 patients have been seen in village clinics, as part of the out-reach programme. We have been able to dispense free medicines for a very wide variety of ailments, and feel that a large impact can be made on each individual's quality of life, through schemes such as these. The clinics are always very popular.

 
Patient Register

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The maintenance of the patient register is an on-going project. At present we are maintaining a database of 127 patients suffering from Rheumatic Heart Disease, which is important both for the monitoring of the condition of these individuals, and as a resource for research into the condition.

Fortunately, over the past year there have been only three new cases of rheumatic heart disease, and this is a reduction that we have tried to assist through the provision of free Penidure (Benzopenicillin) injections at hospitals, clinics and village centres for those with symptoms that are suggestive of a streptococcal throat infection. These injections were kindly donated by Casa del Tibet. Though this steady reduction in cases is welcome, we are aiming for a total eradication of new cases over the next few years, through continuing increased awareness, and the availability of suitable medicines.

We also maintain registers of patients with other conditions, monitoring 82 individuals with Congenital Heart Disease, 22 individuals with serious Arrhythmias, and 20 cases of Coronary Artery Disease

We are also in the process of developing further registers, allowing us to help those with neurological problems, such as those that follow a stroke, as we feel that this is intrinsically linked with heart disease, and therefore the aims of the Foundation

 
Construction Site
 

Plan for the Heart Foundation site

 
 

The construction site is progressing steadily. From merely foundations this time last year, we have added the whole of the ground floor, constructed a well 170m deep to provide a reliable and clean water supply, and now have a connection to electricity and telephone. The army also gave a loan of a bulldozer, allowing the leveling of the rest of the site, while the forest department has pledged to plant approximately 1000 trees around the hospital

We hope to complete the shell of the building by the end of the summer season, in one and a half months time, but this is very much dependent upon the resources available to us.

Nine volunteers from Singapore, including two nuns, came to assist in the building of the site, and also in the clinics, earlier this year

 

Heart Surgery

Over the past years, we have financially assisted many patients in the costs of their surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Studies (AIIMS) in Delhi. Lama Chogyal and Lama Lobzang used to fly to Delhi to help with the admission of some of these patients. We continue to maintain a close relationship with the AIIMS Cardiology department, which ensures that the few patients we still send down are admitted immediately, without paying to stay in Delhi while on the waiting list. However, over the past year, LHF has tried to put more emphasis on the clinics given each year by Professor Kumar (cardiovascular surgeon) and Dr. Mishra (cardiologist) from AIIMS at the government hospital in Leh (SNM Hospital), whose expenses is paid by the Ladakh Heart Foundation. Over the course of a few days, difficult diagnoses can be made, surgical need can be assessed, and surgical follow-up can be ensured- hundreds of patients are seen, removing the need of a costly journey to Delhi for many of them, which explains our interest for those clinics. Regarding those patients who still have to travel to Delhi, they have to pay only for supplies used in the operation, particularly the cost of the valve, while the services of the doctors and nurses and the hospital bed are free.

Some of the patients require blood transfusions during surgery, and this is very kindly donated by some of the Ladakhi students, monks, and other Ladakhi residents in Delhi. The Ladakh Buddhist Vihara in Delhi also often supplies accommodation in Delhi at little or no cost.

After last year successful attempts to perform Patent Ductus Arteriosus closures, which saved the patients a lot of expenses and allowed the training of surgeons in Leh to perform the same procedure, Professor Kumar performed patent Ductus Arteriosus surgery on a similar number of patients in SNM Hospital on 17th & 18th of August 2004.  A young married woman, mother of 3 month old baby suffering from left atrial myxoma was taken down to AIIMS New Delhi and was operated free of cost at the AIIMS New Delhi by Prof. Sampath Kumar. The timely diagnosis and prompt surgical treatment certainly saved this young woman's life. Otherwise she was certain to die in few months.

 
Individual Sponsorships

Henk Thomas, from Holland, has sponsored the surgery of a young child as well as a young woman who both required treatment in Delhi, the first one with a congenital heart lesion, and the other with rheumatic heart disease. The child is now doing quite well but, unfortunately, the womans surgery couldnt be performed, mainly because of her unstable health status. She is now getting better and, hopefully, we should be able to carry on this surgery next yearMany thanks for Henks continued support.

 
Other Projects

About the up bringing of three Muslim siblings from the remote village of Igoo, who were all born blind and that we used to sponsor, we are still considering to bear the expenses of their education in a school for the blind in Delhi, but not before we open a new account for them, involving at least three bearers, including Lama Chogyal, Dr Norboo as well as a woman doctor. Photos of the beneficiaries are awaited as this are required for opening an account in the bank. This measure had to be taken following suspicions toward the father reliability and honesty, and mainly to ensure that the money will reach the three siblings and fulfill their basic needs.  This sponsorship is only possible through the donations from Singaporean groups. 

            LHF has also been able to support two research projects which has resulted in publication of two scientific papers. The first paper, entitled Mini review of high altitude health problems in Ladakhwas first presented at the 3rd International symposium workshop on circadian rhythms and clinical chronotherapy, held in Tokyo, Japan, in November 2002, and was published in 2004 in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, a well-known journal of medicine. The second article entitled "cardio-pulmonary function in high altitude residents of Ladakh" is published in Journal of high altitude medicine and biology.

Our support group in Geneva Les Amis de Ladakh Heart Foundation continues to make generous donations for this construction of Ladakh Heart Foundation Hospital building. Their contribution this year has been CHF 4000/- special thanks for Mujin Sunim and Mr Vincent Schmid and donors.

The good news is that another group, this time from Italia, has shown its interest in supporting LHF in its on-going activities. This new support group will probably be set up before the end of this year. Ladakh Heart Foundation also gratefully acknowledge the receipt of donation of $1000/- from Mr. Borroni Gigi and Mrs. Leela of Italy this year.

Our founder member Mujin Sunim continues her effort for Ladakh Heart Foundation's welfare. It is through her good offices that Mrs. Seema Kumar's Society donated 4000 for Ladakh Heart Foundation. We profusely thanks Mrs. Seema Kumar and the member of her society for the generous support. Through the good offices of Prof. Sampath Kumar Mr. & Mrs. Vinod K. Wazir sent Ladakh Heart Foundation a donation of Rs. 70,000/- (Rupees Seventy Thousand only). We profusely thank them for the generous donation.

 

Other Donations

GuRyong Temple 20,000 USD$ (over the past two years)
Mr. Nawang Rigzin Jora

200,000  Rupees Honble Minister for Science & Technology J & K Government

Professor Otsuka, Japan 50 Blood pressure monitoring devices
Mr. Sato, Japan Epson printer
Singapore Buddhist Group Donation
Heng Thomas Donation and sponsorship Casa del Tibet
Lee Chunkyn family, Korea Computer
Chey Chu Do, Korea Donation
Yong Wa Sa, Korea Donation
Mr. Chu Ji Sunim, Head of Un Mun Sa Sangha College, Korea & All the nuns who have donate us. Donation
   
 
 
A support group has been set up in Geneva, "Les Amis de Ladakh Heart Foundation"
This group has kindly donated a vehicle, which has been vital for both the everyday running and the far-flung activites of the Foundation
 
The Running Costs of the Foundation
The costs of the foundation are considerable:

Office costs (4 salaried personel, rental of property, stationary, maintenance of patient records)

Rs 200,000
Lecture programme (travel, generator) Rs 1000/lecture
Village Clinics (medicines, food, lodging, travel)

from Rs 7000-12,000/clinic

A years supply of Penidure Injections for prevention of Rheumatic Heart Disease Rs 30,000
Financial Assistance for surgery at AIIIMS from Rs 45,000 to Rs 142,000 per operation (excluding board, lodging and travel expenses)
Expenses for visiting doctors from AIIIMS Rs 50,000
Hospital Construction Site Rs 45,000,000 in total
($1 is equivalent to approximately Rs45)
 
The Ladakh Heart Foundation also wants to inform its members and donators about the list of requirements for the registration of the LHF Hospital under section 4 of the J&K State Nursing home and Clinical Establishment Registration and Licensing (Act. 1963).  The required parameters are the following:
1 Official name of the establishment with specifications about the owners and management
2 Documents about land allotted and building design
3 Specifications concerning full time resident doctors and their certificates
4 Specifications about paramedical and nursing staff, and their certificates
5 Arrangements regarding blood transfusion processesInvestigation facilitiesFull list of medical equipment, Surgery Theater includedResuscitation and life saving related equipment
6 Specifications about ambulancesBiomedical waste disposal
7 Arrangements in case of electricity breakdowns
 
Any help regarding those requirements will be welcomed and highly appreciated, particularly regarding numbers 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.
 

Over the course of the next year we hope to be beginning to raise money for the equipping of the new hospital. The new hospital should one day include a fully functional operating theatre, and all necessary diagnostic equipment, such as an echocardiography machine, treadmill and X-ray. We will have more information next year.

If you would like to sponsor any individual part of the operation of the foundation, such as a village clinic or the Rheumatic Heart Disease injections, please contact Lama Chogyal at the Foundation.

 
Contact Details
Address: Ladakh Heart Foundation,
India
 

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