A postgraduate student who has treated more than 25,000 people cut off from healthcare following an earthquake has received a prestigious scholarship to further his work.
Dr Aban Gautam, who is originally from Nepal and currently studying for a masters in clinical research (MClinRes) at the University of Plymouth, was selected to receive the David Nott Foundation scholarship.
Dr Gautam will use the scholarship and his postgraduate study to train colleagues in his home country and help even more people in remote areas.
He began delivering emergency care following an earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, and realised that the aftermath of the disaster was only highlighting an already existing problem regarding healthcare access.
Dr Gautam said:
“The earthquake destroyed parts of the country to rubble – it was impossible to travel and the only way people could access care as for a group of us to take it to them. However, the nation I call home that has been historically crippled by a detrimental health situation on many levels, and I am driven to help make an impact in people’s daily lives.”
Following the earthquake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, many people moved in temporary camps and shelters, while other more remote communities stayed disconnected from health care facilities for a prolonged time.
To optimise healthcare delivery, Dr Gautam led a group of colleagues to manage disease outbreak in shelters and also reach remote areas to give aid to those who could not reach it.
“These shelters greatly increased the risk of outbreak of communicable disease due to overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, unsafe water for drinking and malnutrition. But Nepal has many challenges to overcome when it comes to healthcare. Saving lives during a disaster as well as enabling citizens by helping them reach a state where they don’t have to lose life during disaster is something I aspire to be a consistent part of.”
As a Plymouth MClinRes student, Dr Gautam is currently learning the skills necessary to design and carry out a successful research project and apply evidence to practice.
He applied for the David Nott Foundation scholarship last year and following successful selection he will now attend the Surgical Training for the Austere (STAE) course in Manchester in April – a five-day course offered by the Royal College of Surgeons and directed by David Nott, OBE.
Elly Nott, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the David Nott Foundation said:
“When we heard Dr Gautam’s amazing story of how he had so proactively brought medical care to those in dire need, we had to offer him a scholarship. David was in Nepal in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake too and was surprised to find the vast majority of his surgical cases were obstetrics; illustrating that surgeons need to be trained to handle all cases coming into the hospital, whatever their specialism.”
Dr Gautam concluded:
"This training will enable me to be more self-reliant through an advancement in surgical skills which myself and my teammate can utilise while working throughout the geographically challenging landscape of Nepal.”