Ladakh’s nomadic doctor helps to save 1000 women

This wonderful news comes to us from Ladakh, India.

DrNordanOtzer credits two women with changing his life. The first was his mother. It was 2007 and DrOtzer was working in a rural hospital in Tamil Nadu when he received news that his mother had cervical cancer. The cancer spread to her liver and within a month she passed away.

This sad development proved to be a major turning point in the life of Dr. Nordan Otzer. He had plans of working at a big hospital and settling down abroad but instead he returned home to his village of Hunder in Nubra Valley and started work at a nearby district government hospital in the capacity of a medical officer.

While he was working at the hospital one day, he received a call from the principal of a school in Leh asking for help to track down one of his students, Sonam Dolma. When they found her they saw that Sonam’s right leg had been amputated below the knee and she was in devastating pain. Dr.Otzer spoke to her parents and talked about getting her treated in Delhi and assured them that he would find a sponsor. This brought about the second big change in his life.

Despite the seriousness of her condition, DrNordan felt that they could at least help her live without pain. Because the cancer had spread, the doctors took the decision to amputate her limbs below the waist. She started off by doing well and prosthetic limbs were arranged for her, but sadly she died one day.

DrNordan says .” After that I thought enough is enough. People needed to know more about their body and physical health, especially women, with regards to reproductive health. I believed this needed to change”

He started in Nubra and faced a challenge of generating a conversation around women’s health and to shed all taboos associated with it. Dr. Nordan says,” When I would talk about the cervix or the breast, the women would look down in shyness. However, looking into their eyes, I could sense that they were grateful that someone was talking about these issues and raising awareness amongst them. Through this one year outreach initiative I met nearly all the women residing at Nubra.” Dr. Nordan would speak to them about the symptoms of breast or cervical cancer and the need for regular checkups, screenings, and treatment.

Because of their initial outreach, when it came to the screening, hundreds of women turned up and it included even those women who were healthy and had no issues. Started in 2010, the project under the banner of Himalayan Women’s Health Project, the group of doctors led by Dr. Nordan has screened about 10000 women from all across Ladakh in the last nine years. Out of all of them, 1000 had precancerous lesions.

Doctor Nordan employed a low pain procedure to treat these 1000 women and proudly says that his treatment has made all the difference to these women who would otherwise not have been screened.

Image source: Twitter

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