Edinburgh nurse pays to join Nepal aid efforts

Douglas Veitch, pictured at a health camp run for Sherpas in 2012, will return to aid the Nepalese. Picture: Contributed
Douglas Veitch, pictured at a health camp run for Sherpas in 2012, will return to aid the Nepalese. Picture: Contributed
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REACHING isolated Nepali communities devastated by last month’s deadly earthquake is no simple task.

And with the monsoon season set to trigger dangerous landslides and wash roads away, the challenge is not about to get any easier.

My friends and family knew I would go the first chance I got. It wasn’t an option for me [not to go]

Douglas Veitch

But nothing will keep one big-hearted nurse away from the stricken country as he gears up for a life-saving mission.

Douglas Veitch, from Meadowbank, will head out early next month to deliver vital medical supplies and treatment.

The 46-year-old, who has previously spent around 15 months volunteering in Nepal, works as a nurse for hire, travelling to incidents where he is needed – but this time he is funding his own trip.

He said: “The Nepalis treat you exceptionally well – all the more so if you have come to help them.

“I’ve made many friends there and have seen how they struggle from day-to-day in a normal year, so I’m sure it will be good for them to see a friendly face again, especially as the tourists are staying away for now.

“My friends and family knew I would go and try to help the first chance I got. It wasn’t an option for me [not to go].”

Douglas is fundraising to buy 50 water filters to help prevent contaminated water from spreading disease.

When he arrives, he will pick up a jeep and take some Nepali nurses and doctors to some of the worst-affected zones.

Once a road runs out or becomes impassable, he will grab his medical supplies and hike to some of the more remote villages. He will stay wherever he can find shelter.

“Sleeping-wise, anywhere under a little bit of cover is fine, and if that’s how the Nepalis are surviving, it is no hardship for me for a month,” he said.

The Nepali medics will return to their own hospitals after one or two days out in the field but Douglas will stay anywhere he is needed during his time there. He will be there for four weeks before returning to his job.

Normally a remote village in the hills only has one government auxiliary nurse working with limited supplies, including just a few medications and bandages.

But Douglas stressed that even these additional basic nursing skills and equipment could save lives, prevent people getting sicker and avoid unnecessary trips to hospitals in cities.

He added: “We can also highlight the more serious cases that need to go to the cities for treatment. It can often take a lot of persuading as the people are generally very poor and can’t afford the treatment or to leave their farm.

“We are now entering rice planting season – the busiest time of year. But if they have nurses and doctors telling them, they will often make the effort. This sometimes means being carried on a family member’s back along mountain tracks for days to get to the nearest road.”

Douglas has set up his own Go Fund Me page to pay for the Tiso water filters which cost £15 each.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com