Update: Mission 2015

This year’s mission was a big challenge for all: As leader of the mission, I was not given a visa until 3 days before the return date, which meant I couldn’t go at all.  Although I had applied 2 months ahead, my application got lost in the bureaucracy in Islamabad. An inquiry by the Pakistani secret service was completed before the scheduled date of departure, and still, lengthy procedures prevailed and for no known reason, my visa was so delayed that the mission had to happen without me. What a disappointment for all involved: for me of course, our local osteopaths Haider and Usmara, the unique volunteer from Montreal, who was traveling to Pakistan for the first time, Marc Kafaei, and our friends and supporters in Lahore and Islamabad.

Everyone did the best they could under this unexpected circumstance. Luckily, Haider and Usmara now had sufficient experience of our missions to be able to lead this year’s mission,  which took place in late August-early September.

As an added challenge, because of my visa issue, as a foreigner Marc was not allowed to travel to the the mountain areas, in Gilgit and Nagar, where we usually spend a week. The villagers of Nagar were very sorry to miss the opportunity to have our team provide the osteopathic treatments they have come to expect every year, and we couldn’t build on the precious relationships we had started in the hospitals of Gilgit. We hope to be able to resume our travels there in 2016, but for this year, the mission had to go to plan B.

DSC06467Thanks to the contacts of our most resourceful hosts in Lahore and Islamabad, Sohail and Aleema Khan, they were able to arrange for the team of 3 to treat in schools in Nathia Gali, 3 hours by car from Islamabad, in a beautiful area of Pakistani Kashmir.  As last year, Abdullah, 14 year-old son of Haider and Usmara, joined the team to serve as translator.

Marc was surprised to see so many children with serious infections. It was an unusually strong rainy season, which certainly challenged everyone’s immune systems.  Osteopathy, by releasing strains in the soft tissues and normalizing nerve conduction to restore balance between the sympathetic and para-sympathetic systems, is very effective in returning the body to its natural ability to self-heal.

DSC06390After 3 days of work in Kashmir, the team moved on to ISRA University hospital in Islamabad. Dr. Naveed Babur, Principal of the Rehab Department, has been a great supporter of osteopathy since we met in 2013. He invited our colleague Faisal Naqvi, DO, to present osteopathy at their yearly International Rehabilitation Conference. Two years ago, Dr. Babur had also organized presentations to the leading physiotherapists of the city. This was the first time the team worked in their rehab department, demonstrating the difference osteopathy can make to their patients.

During the second week in Lahore, the team visited 3 different hospitals, including Sheik Zayed Hospital, where we first started working back in 2007. Marc had the opportunity to work at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, a cancer hospital, where the severely sick patients appreciated osteopathy’s gentle touch.

Of course the team returned to Fatima Memorial Hospital, where Haider and Usmara have been working one day a week for more than a year, with their community patients at Naimshuk.

This weekly Osteopathy Day at FMH has served different purposes:

  • treat patients from the poor community for free;
  • expose doctors and medical staff to osteopathy;
  • provide patients for a study Haider and Usmara have completed about the efficiency of osteopathy for neck pain patients.

The results are going to be analyzed 2 different ways. First, a comparison of the results of osteopathic treatment for neck pain by social class, to see if the poor living conditions of the community patients affect the outcome, in one direction or another. That will be the thesis Haider and Usmara will write to obtain their Diploma of Osteopathy at SICO, the Swiss International College of Osteopathy where they have completed their 5-year part-time osteopathic program, thanks to the support of donations to Osteopathy Without Borders.

The second analysis will use the results of a health-score questionnaire that was given before and after those treatments, to measure the impact of osteopathic treatments on general health, what I call the positive side-effects of osteopathy. You can see the preliminary results presented on this next page. They are very encouraging and should help anyone not knowing osteopathy understand the exceptional impact this method can have on community healthcare.

We are still working at bringing an osteopathy program to Pakistan. Hurdles are many, but our team at OWB is dedicated to bringing the gift of osteopathy to those who can greatly benefit from it. Sending Western teachers to Pakistan will be expensive but will ensure the highest quality of training so that the promise of osteopathy can be fulfilled to the professionals and people of Pakistan.

Thank you for your donations to help us realize the vision of a healthier healthcare system.

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