Association of Medical Doctors of ASIA, founded in 1984, Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC since 1995








Singaporean medical students trained in Nepal

Publication date:2018-11-01
By Archana Joshi

As an effort to foster the next generation of humanitarian medical experts, AMDA recently launched the “Triple-A Partnership Program (TAPP)” which comprises of AMDA, AMSA (Asian Medical Students’ Association) and AMSA Alumni to conduct a range of collaborative projects. From 14 May to 09 June 2018, nine students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) underwent practical training at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) in Nepal.

Singapore is known to be one of the most developed and cleanest countries in the world. Prior to the training, one of the participants sent me an email asking if it were necessary to bring a respirator mask. Indeed, the air in Kathmandu is polluted due to road emissions and dust, however, although many people on the streets wear masks, it is rare to see someone wearing a respirator mask. I explained that to the student, adding, “You can if you want,” at the end of my reply.

The fact that they were from a hygienic country made me feel a little anxious whether the students were ready for this month-long training under such circumstances. Of course, this was just one of the several email exchanges I had with the participants. Fortunately, most of them expressed how much they were looking forward to the program, which put me at ease.

On the long-awaited day, I was relieved to see the students having breakfast joyously at a local hotel in Nepal. I knew everything would pan out well as I had seen none of them wearing a mask outside. Nepal boasts a diverse mix of ethnicities, and the Singaporean students blended in so naturally that they were almost mistaken for locals.

As the training started, the students were accommodated at a guest house run by Dr. Shakya who heads the department of emergency medicine at TUTH. The guest house has provided lodging for many trainees and is only a 15 minute-drive from the hospital. Dr. Shakya and his staff treated the students with wonderful hospitality. Not only did they help them find their way around, they introduced them to the Nepali culture by holding a little “cook-and-dine” event, and let them take part in a local festival. Without their earnest support, the students’ stay would not have been so pleasant.

The Singaporean students seemed to have been initially taken aback by the old medical equipment used at the hospital, not to mention Nepal’s medical system. However, they soon got used to the difference. The students learned that what lies at the heart of doctors is the same, no matter where on the globe they might be. It made no difference in the way the doctors interacted with patients, and having an ardent wish for the swift recovery of patients was indeed the common goal for every medical practitioner.

“The doctors always tried to speak English in front of us so that we could understand what they were talking about. I was very happy that the Nepalese medical students were very welcoming and spent time with us despite the fact that they were busy with exams at the time”, one of the students said. “I was deeply moved by the fact that I was able to overcome the language barrier for the first time with the patients. They treated me very kindly despite us not being able to communicate verbally.”

One of the doctors at TUTH told me “Many medical students come to study here every year, but it was an honor to accept Singaporean medical students for the first time.” Also, the Chief Surgeon told me “As Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital is one of the best-equipped general hospitals in Nepal and offers comparatively cheaper medical treatment than private hospitals, people come here from all over the country. Although the hospital is packed full of patients and their families, I truly hope that the Singaporean students can make use of what they have learned here to become great doctors, and make a great impact on the lives of the patients they treat.” The Nepalese medical students said “It’s wonderful to have had the opportunity to meet medical students from all over the world. We can learn a lot from one another and widen our perspective.”

Focusing on AMSA members, the Triple-A Partnership Program aims to nourish talented medical students from all over the world who can contribute to world peace through medicine. The University of Singapore is world-famous for producing excellent medical practitioners. Although the Singaporean students experienced various cultural differences during their time in Nepal, I believe that they were able to learn a lot about medical services from not having the level of medical technology and systems they were used to having readily available back in Singapore. I truly hope that they will make great use of what they have learned and experienced at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Nepal in the future by actively contributing to world peace.
    •  Global Human Resource Development (Education Support)
    •  Nepal
    •  2018
    •  GPSP