Tuberculosis Prevention and Community Health-Dental Care in Gaden Jangtse Medical Buddha Clinic

Project location: India, Mundgod
Project start date: July 2003 - Project end date: April 2004
Project number: 2003-18
Beneficiary: Gaden Jangtse Norling College

In 2003 the Nando Peretti Foundation awarded a grant to the Gaden Jangtse Norling College of Buddhist Cultural and Welfare Association to support a project named "Tuberculosis Prevention and Community Health-Dental Care in Gaden Jangtse Medical Buddha's Clinic in India".

The original Gaden Monastery was founded in the year 1409 near Lhasa. The communist Chinese invasion in the year 1959 and the military occupation, followed by the destruction of the Tibetan Culture and tradition forced His Holiness The Dalai Lama and the Buddhist monks to flee to India.
In 1982 the Gaden Jangtse Norling College Monastery, built on 107 acres of land given by the Indian Government, was inaugurated. It offers education from first standard up to the equivalent of a PhD, in the Buddhist studies and also western education.

As a result of an Italian medical help project, a small Medical Clinic was created in the Monastery. Since July 2001 a group of Italian voluntary doctors come regularly to the Monastery and work for free. Yet, they are forced to examine patients and perform chirurgical operations with inadequate medical tools and sanitary measures.

For this reason, they came to the conclusion that a project was needed for prevention, control and cure of some particular kinds of diseases like: Tuberculosis (at least 20% on the whole community could be infected with TB), Digestive apparatus diseases (Helicobacter pilori, gastro/duodenal ulcers, infections), A, B, and C Hepatitis, orthodontic problems.

The "health centre" - the seed of the clinic that was later created - was providing with medical treatment the Buddhist Monks of Gajang Monastery, the secular Tibetan people nearby, as well as the Indian natives from the surrounding territory.

Traditional treatment of Tibetan Medicine cannot cure such diseases as tuberculosis, hepatitis, helicobacter pilori affection, orthodontics problems, etc. Therefore, the necessity to turn to Western medicine in order to face these particular kinds of diseases.

In order to carry out this prevention-cure project, The Nando Peretti Foundation awarded a grant to the Gaden Jangtse Norling College Monastery for purchasing fundamental medical tools and the surgical minimum equipment that the "health centre" was totally lacking.

More specifically, the Project included three areas of intervention:

TB prevention:
Tuberculosis is to be considered one of the main infectious, with heavy social impact. The Italian doctor responsible for the volunteers in the Buddha Clinic, presented a 6-month project based on prevention of progression of TB infection toward TB disease, avoiding the contagious phase of the infection and reducing the rates of transmission.

Health Center staff:
Tibetan medical staff needed updating and improving their medical knowledge. They were all aged between 24 and 30 and English speaking. Only the presence of a health staff specialized in Community Health could have enough impact for implementing the almost insistent hygienic rules for housing, food and personal hygiene. All problems are related to infectious diseases especially in children aged 6-12, such as intestinal parasites which affect more than 60% of them, skin diseases which affect the 40%, but also chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis affecting elderly monks.

Dental Care:
The dental care among young and elderly population was far from being good. A small dental unit was equipped in the Monastery's health Center. Yet, no dentist was available in the Tibetan community and the visiting Indian dentist had very high fees that could not be afforded by the Health Center. To properly face such a critical situation, it was necessary for at least one of the staff member to attend a dental school in the nearest Indian School, for a period of 5 years, so that he could subsequently be in charge of the dental unit of the Health Center.

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