Bach Christian Hospital – Pakistan
Set at the foothills of the Himalayas, this fifty-bed hospital provides care to rural Pakistanis, who suffer from diseases common in the West, such as diabetes, as well as from TB, typhoid, burns, etc. Large numbers of ill children and women with obstetrical emergencies and complications are also attended by the eight physicians from the US, Pakistan, Scotland and Germany who serve at Bach Christian Hospital.
Visiting health professionals, including students and residents, participate in the full range of clinical care, including ward rounds, clinic, surgery, obstetrics (female workers only, except for surgical procedures), burn care, and physical therapy. Visitors can hike in the mountains north of the hospital, including K2, can also visit the remains of ancient Greek and Buddhist pre-Islamic civilizations.
Location & Community
The hospital is in the village of Qalandarabad, population several hundred, located three hours north of Islamabad in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, formerly known as NorthWest Frontier Province. The village is on an ancient silk route which connected China and Europe in former times. The area is predominantly agrarian and mountainous, with quite warm summer weather, warm and occasional snow in the winter.
Visitors fly into the airport in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. A representative of the hospital will drive them on the three-hour trip to hospital.
For current information please visit the Pakistan embassy website appropriate for one’s home nationality. United States citizens can visit the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC.
Traveler’s Health & Safety
One should consult with their personal physician before traveling, and refer to the CDC Travel Website for the most up-to-date health information. The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to Pakistan in light of the threat of terrorist activity. Nevertheless, Bach Christian Hospital is warmly welcomed and supported by the local community and has good relation with government. Travelers are advised to refer to the United States State Department Website for the most up-to-date nation-specific travel information, and to regularly review Current Travel Advisories.
Those coming for care are from various tribal groups, speaking different languages and with limited resources. Literacy among women is twenty percent and men is fifty percent. Patients often present with advanced and complicated problems. TB is a huge problem in Pakistan. Little malaria is found because of the elevation. Traditional midwifes perform most deliveries at home, with only high-risk cases admitted to the hospital. Common surgical procedures include urology, thyroids, and abdominal perforation.
Urdu is the dominant local language, though seven different languages are commonly spoken. Hospital charts in English, and translation between English and Urdo is readily available. Visitors will also have opportunity to study Urdu if they desire.
Medical Care Services
The hospital has fifty beds divided into male, female, obstetric and pediatric wards. Two operating rooms are in use. The physical therapy department, after the 2005 earthquake, has expanded to include prosthetics. Several hundred patients are seen each day in the outpatient clinics. The hospital was started 50 years ago by The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), which continues to provide staff and leadership.
Public Health Initiatives
Bach Hospital is currently focusing on educating new and expecting mothers in two primary areas, lactation and nutrition. Resources for women are rare in this part of the country, and many have problems with low birth weight babies and failure to thrive children due to nursing difficulties. The focus is twofold, to teach mothers how to become comfortable with nursing, including techniques and troubleshooting for the challenges that arise. There is also a focus on improving nutrition thru education for nursing moms and children. This initiative is providing great education for the community, healthier babies and mothers as well as great relationship opportunities for the workers of Bach Hospital.
Healthcare Profession Staff
The medical staff of Bach Christian Hospital consists of two general surgeons, one obstetrician, two pediatricians, three family physicians and a physical therapist. Their nationalities include Australian, German, American, Scottish and Pakistani. Among the staff is Scott Armistead, MD a plenary speaker at the INMED Exploring Medical Missions Conferences.
Visiting health professionals, including students and residents, will participate in the full range of clinical care, including ward rounds, clinic, surgery, obstetrics, burn care, physical therapy. Night call with supervision is available, though nights at Bach Christian Hospital tend to be quiet. Each morning the day begins with a chapel service and a brief medical education session.
Student Lodging & Meals
Visitors are provided a furnished apartment with a kitchen. Local food shopping is available, and a group lunch is held each afternoon.
Email and telephone service is accessible.
INMED invites all participants to consider raising extra funds to financially support this facility. While such efforts are not required, they provide opportunity for INMED personnel to become involved in this important aspect of international healthcare.
K2, the second highest mountain in the world, is nearby, as is the remains of a town founded by Alexander the Great. Visitors can fill their free time with mountain hikes and visits to Buddhist monasteries.
Behavior & Dress
Women wear local dress, including head covering in public and at the hospital. Local dress is pantaloon (baggy pants) with long top, and should be purchased upon arrival. Women do not wear western-style cloth, and should not go outside hospital campus unaccompanied. Men may wear western clothing or local dress, but no short pants. White coats without a tie are worn for hospital work. Those coming in wintertime should bring sweaters, for the weather is very cold and there is no central heat.
What To Pack
Visitors should bring copies of all healthcare profession licenses, diplomas, or certifications. It is also recommended to pack a carry-on bag that has essentials items just in case one’s luggage becomes lost. Bring clothes appropriate for the weather. A stethoscope, reading materials are musical instruments are recommended.