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CQUni hosts Nepali health leaders, arranges insight into local health services

Published:02 May 2018

TOP: Nepali visitors are greeted by a display of native reptiles. MID: CQUni Nursing students Jennifer Chappell (second from left) and Jessica Birt meeting Fishtail Hospital reps Ashok Palikhe, Dr Bhairatna Shakya and Dr Bhola Shretha. BELOW: A leader in coordinating student placements in Nepal, Sonam Sangpo, meets some of the local animals.

CQUniversity’s long-term relationship with Nepal’s Fishtail Hospital is reaching another level thanks to this week's visit by a delegation of senior health officials from that country.

The Nepali visitors have been discussing staff exchanges, student visits, curriculum support and potential for social innovation projects.

They are also visiting the local Royal Flying Doctor Services base and the Yeppoon, Rockhampton, Mater and Ramsay hospitals.

Their arrival overlaps with a visit to CQUni by their compatriot Sonam Sangpo*, a renowned expert for coordinating foreign student placements in Nepal.

Based in the Pokhara area of Nepal, the private Fishtail Hospital has been hosting CQUni Nursing students undertaking ‘clinical cultural exposure’ for the past eight years.

The CQUni students also work with Fishtail staff to provide basic health services for nearby village health campus. In 2017, this relationship enabled outward bound mobility training for Nursing, Education, Sonography and Physiotherapy students.

Meanwhile, CQUniversity has arranged donations of medical supplies and scholarship grants for Nepali nursing students who are based at Fishtail.

Fishtail representatives including Medical Director Dr Bhola Shretha, Chairman Dr Bhairatna Shakya, Founder Chairman Dr Basant Tamrakar and Nursing Campus Chairman Ashok Palikhe toured CQUni Brisbane on Tuesday (1 May) before proceeding to Rockhampton (2-4 May).

It was more than a decade ago that CQUGlobal Outbound started arranging for nursing and midwifery students to assist with remote health clinics in Nepal.

CQUni Nursing students Jennifer Chappell and Jessica Birt were among those who gave presentations about their recent experiences in Nepal.

"I was impressed with the chance to view a variety of surgeries and the ritual around how the Nepali nurses are educated," Ms Chappel says.

"We attended a ceremony where the graduating nurses passed the candle to the new nursing students. There was recognition of Florence Nightingale and plenty of dancing."

Meanwhile, Ms Birt says her personal highlight in Nepal was helping at the Ghundruk health camp for mountain villagers, as well as wearing 'Teletubbies-style' purple scrubs in the operating theatre.

CQUni Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman says that, thanks to the New Colombo Plan, students have the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone, challenge their entrenched perspectives and gain insights into other cultures, while offering their talents and skills to people of other nations.

The University’s relationships in Nepal have expanded greatly to encompass Nepal-based projects on horticulture, agricultural supply chains, engineering design, remote village tourism and business development, and even a cookery school which empowers marginalised women.

CQUniversity is also proud to host many students, researchers and academics from Nepal.

Professor Bowman says his institution’s focus on Nepal has great potential to engender change and development.

“One of the great things about CQUniversity is our philosophy of giving back to the communities and industries we serve – not just here in Australia but so too overseas.

“We can achieve so much more working in places like Nepal than we can with projects in already-developed western nations,” Professor Bowman says.

“Our Nursing students travel to some of the most remote parts of Nepal to deliver free health clinics which are attended by hundreds of people; for many this is the only healthcare they receive.

“They also fundraise for scholarships and bursaries for nursing students at Pokhara University, they deliver medical supplies and other resources including eye-glasses, and gather donations for the children of Nepal, for the rebuilding of earthquake-damaged classrooms and to support the work of Nepal’s Fishtail Hospital.”

Professor Bowman says CQUniversity has an extremely good reputation in Asia and is recognised by many as a global leader in engagement, social innovation and learning and teaching.

* About Sonam Sangpo Sonam, a fluent Nepalese, English, Hindi and Tibetan speaker, is well respected both within the host country for his continued social service to the Nepali people and in the Tibetan community for his active service through various Tibetan NGOs based in India and Nepal. He has also been active in highlighting the Tibetan refugees’ deteriorating situation in Nepal, including bringing issues relating to their exit permits to the concerned authorities of the host government, local and international human rights organisations and various governments. Sonam has served as a central executive member of Ngari Chithue Tsokpa from 2006 to 2011 for two terms. He has been awarded the social service medal from the Lions Club International and gold medal from District Governor of  Lions Club, District 325 B1 Nepal. He is a renowned expert for coordinating foreign student's placement in Nepal. He is currently involved with Antipodeans Australia for  Nepal & India, Nineteen Degree Australia for Nepal & India, Global Action UK and the American Himalayan Foundation’s scholarship.