We are privileged to have Dr. Anumesh Dahal give us his firsthand account of the second Musa Masala Dental Camp, held at the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital Tapting at the end of April, 2023. We are so grateful for the team he put together to bring the only oral health organization to the area. We are thankful to Dr. Gyaltsen Gurung and the staff at the WSMH for working with us to make this possible.
We also thank our friends, Jason Tartalone at Sergeant Rescue and Pem Dorjee Sherpa of Imperial Expeditions, who helped put up the funding for this camp. Without the donations, we simply could not do this. Jason donated the funds raised during their Spring 2022 Everest Base Camp Trek to help us. Sergeant Rescue is based in Pennsylvania and provides classes in SAR, EMS and wilderness medicine. Pem Dorjee Sherpa is a friend of Musa Masala and a board member of the Himalayan Yokpu Foundation.
We here at Musa Masala rely on our donors so we can fund events like this. To be clear, this is the only dental clinical situation coming into the hospital catchment area. The education and treatments provided by Dr. Dhal and his team are otherwise not available to this population. So please read on and if you can. Help by donating to Musa Masala to make our projects, such as this camp, a success. Thank you team, Jam Jam!!
Looking back on Musa Masala’s Second Dental Camp
By Dr. Anumesh Dahal
Looking back to 2021, when I first visited the Wongchhu Sherpa Primary Hospital Tapting (WSMPH), I felt that this place has evolved into something special, something few had imagined. In that “few” were, the Himalayan Yokpu Foundation, Musa Masala and the late Mr. Wonghhu Sherpa himself. Kudos to all those who have made this possible and to you, the person reading this who has directly or indirectly helped create this spiritual place of healing.
Much planning went into this year’s dental camp, like last year.
This year we added three more dentists to our team! Our coordinated group consisted of members of The Himalayan Yokpu Foundation, Dentist Nepal, and most importantly the staff of the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital Tapting. Lakpa Sherpa and Roshan Shrestha, and Ang Diku Sherpa from Wongchhu Peak Promotion and the Himalayan Yokpu Foundation had managed all the logistics for the dental team.
Two days before the camp began, we arrived after a 12-hour jeep ride from Kathmandu. Dr. Gyaltsen Gurung, the hospital’s physician, in simple words is a gift. His team works tirelessly for the betterment of the WSMH and the people in the surrounding area. (Mike Ji here… Stay close, because we have some amazing stories coming soon on Dr. Gyaltsen Gurung and the outreach work he has commenced with the hospital staff. They are proactive and effective!).
The team was assembled and getting ready. Our dental team consisted of:
- Dr. Abhinaya Luitel, Oral Medicine and Radiology, (Consultant at BPKIHS,Dharan), special focus on oral cancer screening.
- Dr. Megha Shah, Dental Surgeon (BPKIHS, Dharan)
- Dr. Asmita Yawali, Dental Surgeon (Koshi Oral and Dental Clinic, Diktel, Khotang)
- Dr. Anumesh Dahal, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (Resident at TU Teaching Hospital, Kathmandu)
And we were ready!
Since this is a well set up hospital, management of the patient flow was easy, the staff made it possible for us to see many patients. For each day we asked people from certain areas to come to ease the crowding. Effective planning made this work. We served 72 people and Dr. Megha was terrific. She extracted 40 teeth in one day! Day one required a lot of impromptu management. With the remote location and so many things to pack we found ourselves without a simple mixing pad and spatula for the restorative material. We managed to make one out of a large syringe piston, and an upcycled gloves packet for a mixing pad. It worked better than the real one!
Focusing more on restoration and cleaning, we served 40 people from a different area than day one. A playlist of calming and energizing songs in the background mixed with smiling patients and fresh mountain air put me in vacation mode. Dr. Asmita, the youngest of us, took special time to work and talk with patients about their specific problems, it was inspiring to see.
We were determind to see as many patients as possible today. Dr. Abhinaya, who specializes in Oral Pre-Cancerous Lesion Diagnosis and treatment played an important part at the camp. (The relatively high rate of cancer in this region made the addition of Dr. Abhinaya a real gift to the camp. We are so grateful, Mike Ji.) Patients were screened for lesions. None were found, thankfully. Dr. Abhinaya explained the dangers of smoking and alcohol use, we hope it makes an impact, but continued education is key.
Day 3 saw many returning customers for extractions, screening, cleaning, filling and fluoride application. We made a special invitation for all the school children of the area to receive APF gel. We demonstrated to the WSMH staff the application process and everyone now can apply the fluoride treatment. This preventive measure will help prevent tooth decay in children. (As there is an influx of sugary soft drinks in the area, oral care is more important than ever!)
Roshan Shrestra was the bridge between the dental team and the WSMH staff. He was one of the main managers for the project from start to finish. His contribution to this camp is priceless. He was the master of all, and responsible for the record keeping too. He missed his licensing exams in Kathmandu, deciding to stay the full length of the camp. Now he has to wait 3 months.
On day 3 we treated 107 patients!
The final day
The last day was special for me. Early in the morning everyone surprised me with a birthday cake! (Thanks for working on your birthday, Mike Ji!) This day we saw many returning patients again and many new ones too. We stayed extra long so no one was left behind. We also trained members of the hospital staff for performing general oral health in the absence of any local dental practitioners. Ashal Tamang, of the WSMH staff, was the focal person to keep things going smoothly. He is a celebrity in the area and it is a boon to have him and Dr. Gyaltsen Gurung at the hospital. Ashal would post all the updates on the camp to Facebook with daily videos and a report for everyone to see.
All the team members did their job so well, the outcome was amazing. Everyone played their role and enthusiastically made it a success. Our program was short. Five days to treat 350 people is not long considering how long many of the treatments could take. The primary objective of the camp is always preventive. As a dentist, and oral health advocate I consider it a responsibility to be able to make people aware of oral health related issues and their solutions. A dental presence at the hospital year round could make a difference for the community. We will meet again next year, hoping to help the people around the WSMH, and eagerly awaiting our return to this special place.