In this region of Tibet, 1 in 33 women dies as a result of giving birth to a child. In 2004 Garchen Rinpoche requested a group of American doctors and trained medical professionals to adress this issue. The group conducted focus groups and decided to teach large groups of women the skills of safe and clean delivery, in order to address the high maternal mortality rates in the area.
There were six women chosen to enroll in a 2 year program in town to learn the skills more thoroughly and return to serve the villages where they came from. Two of these women have excelled at their studies and are in Chinese medical school. They are 5 days by train and bus from home and need support in order to pay the tuition fees at school.
Mother and Child Healthcare Project Eastern Tibet
The Mother & Child Health Care project is devoted to creating access to health care and improving maternal and child health in the remote, semi-nomadic communities of eastern Tibet. The health care needs in these isolated mountain communities are significant and critical. Villagers and nomads lack access to even the most basic health care.
The women and infants of these communities are dying during childbirth at shockingly high rates. WHO estimated 1 in 33 births results in the mother’s death, compared with 1 in 2,800 in developed countries. Approximately 1 in every 6 to 10 newborns does not survive, however these above figures are likely conservative.
The leading cause of maternal death is postpartum hemorrhage, from which a woman can die in one to three hours. Yet the absence of trained midwives, roads, transportation, and fuel in this remote area make it virtually impossible to reach the nearest medical clinic, which is a 3 to 5 hour drive over very bad roads Gargon women often give birth outside, alone in the harsh mountain environment, without any support or access to emergency care.
From 2004 to 2008 the project has educated women in lifesaving techniques for preventing and treating postpartum hemorrhage, infection, and other complications. During this time the project was called the Gar Tibet Health Project. To ensure long-term access to health care for the Gargon Community their needs to be a team of trained outreach health workers to help the nomadic people in the surrounding areas by making regular health visits to these families.
2004: During this initial evaluative visit, Dr. Caplan taught a Maternal Child Health course, distributed birth kits and clothing, and provided much needed medical treatment to the people of Gargon.
2005: Dr. Donna Caplan lead a team of ten health care practitioners, including a Tibetan doctor, nurse, midwife, acupuncturist, massage therapist and also a medical anthropologist. The team accomplished over 800 patient visits, taught a Community Outreach Midwifery Course, and conducted a needs-assessment to help inform future projects.
2006: Another health team traveled to the area and continued the work from the previous year in Gargon and also nearby communities. At the request of Garchen Rinpoche, five women from the Gargon area were selected to participate in a three-year medical training program with a Tibetan doctor in Nangchen Township.
2008: A Building for a permanent health clinic at Gargon village was built.
2009: The five young women from the Gargon area finished their 3-year medical training program in Nangchen.
2014: Dr. Donna Caplan and Terri Nash completed a training and offered treatment to hundreds of Tibetans
2015: Iris Wolfson offered Clinics throughout Tibet
2016: Terri Nash returned to Kham to offer treatment and trainings.
2019: Iris Wolfson returned to Tibet and offered Clinics and treatments.
2020: Tibetan Social worker and student of Terri and Iris continued to offer educational outreach.
2021: Tibetan Social worker and student of Terri and Iris continued to offer educational outreach.
• Continuing the Training of health outreach workers to assist in maternal and child health care and family needs.
• Continuing to educate as many families as possible about safe pregnancy and childbirth.
• Establish a functional healthcare facility in the existing clinic building, which will also provide a home base for the health outreach workers for the surrounding communities.