The work of the Ladakh Heart Foundation began serendipitously in 1997 when Lama Chogyal, a monk and the president of the LHF, was stuck in New Delhi while trying to obtain a visa to go to England. He decided to make constructive use of his time by visiting Ladakhi patients who were in Delhi hospitals. This experience taught Lama Chogyal two basic things: (a) many Ladakhi people have preventable heart disease and (b) that it was a jarring and overwhelmingly expensive experience for Ladakhi people to come to Delhi and stumble their way through what was basically a foreign country trying to find medical care for their illnesses.
Lama Chogyal resolved to do something. His first move was to consult with Ladakhi physicians to find out what could be done. He decided that a useful first thing to do would be to purchase large amounts of penicillin and distribute it to villages, along with proper education about rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and strep throat, so that the then prevalent RHD could be prevented by the simple measures of diagnosing and treating strep throat. Since that time, new cases of RHD have almost disappeared from Ladakh.
Next came an outreach health care program to deliver health care to remote villages. Lama Chogyal found the money to purchase a vehicle and equipment, organized the physicians and the program took off and is still running to this day. Then the idea arose to bring cardiologists and heart surgeons to Ladakh from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Dehli – one of India’s premiere medical institutions. Lama Chogyal picked up the phone and for seven years now, AIIMS’s physicians and surgeons have been providing quality medical care to heart patients from all over Ladakh at week long summer clinics in Leh. An average of 300 patients have been seen every summer in these clinics.
Finally, the New Delhi physicians asked Lama Chogyal to construct a hospital here in Leh that would specialize in providing comprehensive cardiac care. Dr. Samphat Kumar, Professor of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery at AIIMS, offered to move to Leh and work full time for the LHF hospital. The government of Ladakh contributed a piece of land. The Dalai Lama, who has been a patron from the very beginning, as well as many others, contributed significant amounts of money, and three years ago, construction began. At this point in time, the hospital building is complete, and funds have been obtained to both finish the electrical and plumbing infrastructure of the building and to purchase furniture.
The LHF has now expanded it’s role. In addition to running a fully-functioning hospital, it provides mobile health education and treatment camps throughout the district of Ladakh. It also operates a coffee shop in the tourist district of Leh, profits from which help support LHF activities. We at ATMA have been involved with the LHF since 2012 and continue to support the great work they do.
We encourage you to watch this documentary on the Ladakh Heart Foundation and the great work they are doing to help the people of the Indian Himalayas!
From June 3-7, 2017, the ATMA Research Team presented their findings on a project entitled "Acute Mountain Sickness in the Himalayas: Preliminary Report", which is examining the prevalence of altitude sickness on popular trekking routes in the Himalayas. Our preliminary analysis shows that 70% of people who trek in Nepal experience altitude sickness with half of these being severe. Furthermore, people experience altitude sickness for approximately a quarter of the total duration of their trek!
Our project was well-received and we had good feedback from emergency medicine leaders in Canada. These findings were presented at the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) Conference in beautiful Whistler, British Columbia!
You can find a few photos below:
We'd like to extend a big thank you to everyone that was able to come out and support us at the Pub Night event on March 30th! It was a success and even better than we could have hoped for. Almost 100 people made it to the event, selling out the Hemingway Pub! There was a raffle for some of the paintings we've picked up from around the world as well as an art sale which was well received. All of the proceeds from the pub night will go towards our ATMA-LIP Mobile Health Clinics project to fund 10 mobile health clinics per year in the north Indian district of Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas.
We've posted a few pictures and videos from the fundraiser below, be sure to check them out!