Mindful Medicine Worldwide

Mindful Medicine Worldwide

Nepal
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

MMW aims to improve the health and well-being of rural and impoverished communities in developing countries by offering direct patient care and training integrative health workers and extended family members to manage chronic diseases, laying the foundation for these communities to incorporate preventive health care into their daily lives. Chronic disease is the dominant health burden in developing countries, greater even than communicable disease, and the most serious threat to the creation of healthy communities. Studies show integrative treatments have significant success in treating chronic disease and pain. MMW’s program reduces morbidity and mortality levels and creates lasting community health.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Lara Louie Hope Project in Mae On (Thailand) has proven acupuncture can be successfully integrated into treatment programs for HIV and that such a program can be locally run within four to five years. MMW takes this model a step further by offering a program of preventative healthcare education for many kinds of chronic disease, while giving patients low-cost tools for immediate home care. MMW works in areas that are relatively isolated or vulnerable and treats populations that may not have seen a medical provider in years. MMW’s program can be transplanted to different locales and countries as the program adapts to local social and cultural traditions, as well as to local health conditions. MMW’s program is a natural complement to other relief medical organizations, such as Médécins San Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders), and can better address the chronic health effects of poverty and displacement in a socially neutral way. MMW’s effective year-round health care, combined with research and education, leading to a sustainable treatment program for chronic disease conditions, creates lasting positive change. Other models, like Acupuncturists without Borders, or the Global Alternative Healing Project, rely on periodic medical missions alone. They do not create sustainable, community-based programs.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

MMW works within existing medical clinics or community centers to offer direct patient care and train integrative health workers. A rotating cycle of MMW volunteers train local lay people or health workers in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other integrative health practices, while providing continual patient care during the training process. Over three years, MMW will offer selected and dedicated local residents at each site a full course of Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, training and accrediting them to international standards, and help them to set up and run their own satellite clinics. MMW also trains patients and their families to use simple, effective techniques, easily taught, to manage chronic disease in their own homes, ensuring a two-tiered approach to preventative care. In addition, MMW plans to gather community health data, using surveys to assess gaps in local preventative care, in order to tailor health care needs to different communities. MMW also trains professional TCM practitioners on how to treat patients with more serious illness in developing areas and gives them the opportunity to understand, first hand, the global health crisis, and in particular, the burden of chronic diseases, so that they will forever feel connected to this cause.
About You
Organization:
Mindful Medicine Worldwide NFP
About You
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Mindful Medicine Worldwide NFP

Organization Phone

773-338-2309

Organization Address

W Highland Ave

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, XX

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.

Since 2008, Nepal has been a democratic republic, searching for a stable Prime Minister to guide the completion of a constitution. The Kathmandu Valley contains the highest population density in the country, about 20% of the total population. Residents are mostly subsistence farmers, agricultural and migrant workers, handicraft workers and Tibetan refugees. Their lives are physically very hard. They are generally poor, malnourished and overworked. Most Nepalis earn USD $400 a year or less. There is no system of social welfare and Nepalis lack easy access to primary healthcare. Hypertension is a leading cause of morbidity, and other chronic or preventable conditions such as Diabetes Mellitus, Tuberculosis, and Arthritis severely diminish quality and length of life. “It is the actual extended families, and network of friends, among Nepalis who are relied upon for providing what [healthcare that] the state has, as of yet, failed to adequately provide,” from a 2010 study of unmet health care needs in Nepal. MMW works within local Buddhist monasteries where there is established trust with the local community and people are already accustomed to seeking medical services. The local people have much respect for monks and MMW’s monastic partners have strongly embraced MMW in order to give better service to local people.

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

I have firsthand knowledge of the need for and success rates of TCM in under-served populations. After graduating from TCM School, I volunteered at a TCM and midwifery clinic in Bali for four months, successfully using TCM to treat patients with hypertension, stroke, cerebral palsy, seizures, and debilitating pain. The patients there often had no other options for health care due to its prohibitive expense, and TCM filled the need for low-cost care. I then volunteered for six months at an integrative clinic in Nepal, where I had lived for a year in 2003. By the end of my second week at the clinic, I was seeing fifty patients a day, helping people return to work after chronic pain, walk again after stroke, and administer physical therapy to their aging parents. Through my work with these patients, their lives changed quickly and tangibly for the better, and I realized that these communities needed year-round, primary care from practitioners with a focus on preventive medicine and overall health. They needed medical care that would become an integral part of the community that people could rely on everyday.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

MMW is currently working in three locations in Nepal, with a 4th clinic planned in Northern Thailand. In 2010, MMW sent 7 volunteers and gave 8400 treatments. By the end of 2011, MMW will have sent 15 volunteers and give over 15,000 treatments. Since 2010, volunteers have been training 3 local residents at each site in TCM as well as paying them a salary as interpreters. In 2009, we were treating patients on a one-on-one basis, but patient numbers were increasing beyond our ability to serve them. So we switched to a community acupuncture model gaining popularity in the West; patients are treated eight at a time in a room. The benefits are that more patients can be effectively treated, and educating them on health topics creates a form of social peer pressure. Once, I was advising a group of patients why they should quit smoking, and suddenly they were telling me if someone in the group did smoke. We are also sometimes able to gather important health information about patients from their neighbors, if the patient herself is afraid to admit some necessary information (i.e., that she cannot afford a chest x-ray or her husband beats her)

How many people have been impacted by your project?

More than 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

MMW anticipates setting up a new clinic in Northern Thailand.

Task 1

Create a successful business plan outlining stages and costs for a new clinic in Thailand.

Task 2

Research areas in need on the Thai-Burmese border as well North Eastern Chiang Rai with hill-tribe populations in need of health care. Travel to these areas and create a program plan for volunteers.

Task 3

Apply our business plan and budget to the researched area and begin fundraising for foreseeable remaining budget needs, including grant applications.

Identify your 12-month impact milestone

In the next 12 months we plan to be recruiting new volunteers for Thailand where they will be successfully treating refugees on the Thai-Burmese border, or Northern Thai hill-tribe populations.

Task 1

Travel to Acupuncture Schools to recruit and train newly licensed acupuncture volunteers and market new volunteer opportunities with MMW.

Task 2

Identify and Interview 4 volunteers who will serve as the first recruits for MMW Thailand clinics. Volunteers must have an interest in Asian culture and experience working with indigenous populations.

Task 3

Gather supplies and budget requirements necessary for volunteers to bring to Thailand. Develop a volunteer networking site which will connect them to volunteers in Nepal for support.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Over three years, MMW will offer selected and dedicated local residents at the three current sites a full course of TCM and acupuncture, training and accrediting them to international standards, and help them run their own satellite clinics. Each year, MMW expects to add at least one new clinic site. Within five years, MMW will create a sustainable model for community health care in Nepal and expects clinics will be running by themselves. In addition, MMW will grow the volunteer pool to include volunteer Project Coordinators, on the ground making necessary improvements to clinics, the volunteer programs, and patient experience.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Funding is the main barrier however MMW is creating a detailed 5-year budget and business plan. The 2010 budget was $60,000, which was raised through donations, grants and fundraisers. The MMW budget for 2011 is $90,000 and for 2012 is $150,000. MMW plans to apply for public and private grants, continue to develop relationships with TCM suppliers and schools, hold regular public fundraisers: two annual Wellness Days in Chicago and an observation/training program for Western acupuncture students, with each event expected to raise $10,000. Volunteer acupuncturists who work and train in the MMW clinics raise $750 each as part of their volunteer commitment and pay their own travel costs. In 2010, MMW received $5250 in payments from volunteer generated donations; in 2011, these payments will total $10,500. MMW plans to recruit additional volunteers from within the TCM community, increasing this source of funding and potential teachers. Educating people on the benefits of TCM is another barrier. The World Health Organization named acupuncture effective in the care of over 100 medical illnesses. Still, many people think TCM is only for pain, not for stroke, diabetes, typhoid, migraines - debilitating illnesses for which there is no other short or long-term palliative option.

Tell us about your partnerships

MMW has strong connections with TCM schools such as Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. The Dean of Students from PCOM sits on our advisory board. The Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine is also a strong partnership with 2 faculty serving on our board and plans for a joint project in Thailand. We partner with the Chicago School of Thai Massage to send massage therapists to assist our acupuncturists with the first LMP just finishing his 5th month in Nepal. We have dedicated sponsorships from TCM suppliers such as AsiaMed, which donates 40,000 needles per year, Blue Poppy, KPC, May Way, People’s Herbs and EarthLife, which donates acupuncture tables. Since 2009, our partners have donated over $10,000 in much needed supplies. We have contracts with Sechen Monastary and Foundation, Thrangu Monastery Namobuddha (in existence for 40 years) and the Vajra Varahi Health Care Clinic in Chapagoan, Nepal. All three clinics have agreed to receive our volunteers and work with MMW on training locals for at least the next 5 years. We have sent over 25 volunteers to these locations combined and all our partners are extremely satisfied with the work of MMW.

Explain your selections

Friend and Family attend our Wellness Day events where they can learn about acupuncture in the global health crises as well as hear about how TCM can help their health. Individuals pledge yearly donations to support our operating budget. Generous acupuncture and herbal supply companies donate Chinese herbs, acupuncture needles, and supplies to our clinics making operating possible. Shenpen Foundation in Nepal has granted us funds totaling $3900 to pay our translators a living wage while they learn TCM skills.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

To assess the health of populations served, and to create benchmarks for progress in community health care, MMW will conduct community health surveys on a bi-annual basis. MMW will use these surveys to adjust medical services and community needs. Success will be measured in the short term by the number of patients restored to previous levels of health and in the longer-term by the level of effective health-care autonomy reached in 5 years. MMW plans to hire more support staff in both Nepal and the USA to handle the increasing workload of running the organization and broaden treatment areas. In addition, MMW plans to branch out to the Chiang Rai hill tribe area in Thailand where volunteers will begin to work in a hospital that serves indigenous populations, testing and strengthening the cross-cultural portability of the project.

Challenges
Which barriers to health and well-being does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

SECONDARY

Limited diagnosis/detection of diseases

TERTIARY

Limited access to preventative tools or resources

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Overburdened healthcare systems in developing countries cannot provide affordable or preventative care, or even (early) diagnosis, to people with chronic diseases. ‘Population based approaches’ are the solution. MMW offers direct patient care and trains local integrative health workers in diagnosis and early treatment, offering low-cost services affordable even to the poor, and trains family members in basic disease management techniques. This keeps costs as low as possible and the sacrifice of normal living to a minimum. Early diagnosis and treatment slows or reverses disease progression and chronic pain – critical for the poor, whose livelihoods depend on staying strong and healthy.

How are you growing the impact of your organization or initiative?
Please select up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

SECONDARY

Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

TERTIARY

Grown geographic reach: Global

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

MMW is currently working in three locations in Nepal and is making plans for a 4th clinic in Northern Thailand. MMW’s goal is to create a sustainable model for community health care within Nepal and Thailand, before eventually expanding services to other developing countries.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

We work with currently established health care clinics in Nepal. Many of these clinics are non-profits themselves. They are our host clinics and without them and the trust of the local people that comes with being there, we could not be successful. For profit acupuncture supply companies donate most of our supplies which makes treating patients possible. Acupuncture colleges host MMW lectures so that we get the word out about MMW, thus enabling our main method of recruitment of volunteers from their alumni and recent graduate pool. Deans of TCM colleges serve as Advisory Committee members of MMW.