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Dr Prakash Gyawali: On a quest to provide advanced orthopedic care in Nepal

Dr Prakash Gyawali: On a quest to provide advanced orthopedic care in Nepal

Dr Prakash Gyawali, a 48-year-old senior consultant orthopedic surgeon, believes you should always be quick to seek medical help when you need it. People, he says, tend to endure pain for longer than necessary. It often puts them at a disadvantage and complicates cases. The doctor who has been working at Nepal Orthopedic Hospital since 2012 specializes in arthroplasty, orthopedic trauma, and accident cases. As the clinical coordinator, he also oversees academic activity at the hospital.

After getting his master’s in surgery in 2007, Dr Gyawali came back home to Nepal to better orthopedic care in the country. He went to rural parts of Nepal as these were places that needed medical care the most. He met Dr Katrin Hagen, a Swiss orthopedic surgeon, when working at a health camp. The two became good friends and she offered him an opportunity to undergo a training course in Switzerland. 

The training allowed him a chance to become well-versed in global orthopedic techniques. He even worked at Clinic Good in St Moritz, Switzerland for a while. He has been associated with Operation Walk, which is a volunteer medical humanitarian organization that provides free joint replacement surgeries at no cost. It’s based in Chicago, USA. 

According to the surgeon, the current methods and procedures for arthroplasty in the Nepal Orthopedic Hospital meet international standards but there is a need to invest in skilled manpower. Acknowledging the high costs associated with both implants and surgeries in arthroplasty, he remains dedicated to serving underprivileged people through collaborations with global organizations. Also, at the hospital, they’ve set up a system where patients are lined up for free implant services and donations from Operation Walk.

Dr Gyawali confesses he has always been a hard worker. He went to a government school and his dad, who ran an auto workshop, wanted him to become a doctor. Despite tough competition and having fewer resources than other boarding school children, Gyawali tried his level best to do well in his studies. “I had to create my own opportunities,” he says.

Now, he believes in creating opportunities for others through his work. There is a scarcity of skilled manpower in dealing with general orthopedic trauma. It isn’t because of a lack of knowledge. There is a lack of exposure, says the doctor. He has been fortunate enough to go abroad and train and that has helped him hone his skills.

However, Dr Gyawali adds he is grateful to Dr Chakra Raj Pandey, a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon in Nepal, for sparking his interest in orthopedics. He says it was Dr Pandey who taught him how to take care of patients and pay meticulous attention to all the little things that a surgeon needs to keep in mind. A mentor, he says, can change the course of your life. Dr Pandey has been that invaluable person in his life.  

As a person, Dr Gyawali is a stickler for discipline. He likes being able to do his job well and fulfill his responsibilities. He likes to plan. He finds he is better able to function at his best that way. He also makes it a point to be on time. In the medical field, discipline and punctuality matter a lot, he says. 

Dr Gyawali has conducted over 200 knee replacement surgeries and they have all gone without a hitch. This has cemented his reputation as a good surgeon and patients specifically ask for him. However, he believes a doctor needs to have the right attitude to provide good healthcare. He says that if a doctor is friendly and positive, the patients get better faster. “Surgery isn’t just about fixing injuries but it’s also about making patients feel comfortable. Some processes go beyond science,” he adds. 

He wants to help others through his services, especially focusing on those who are financially unable to afford healthcare or have deformities. And he wants to extend his services to rural areas of Nepal. He wishes to be able to set up surgical facilities in remote parts of Nepal. 

Another area of focus is arthritis care, he says. The condition is quite common in Nepal. However, the surgery is costly, which is why people often ignore their pain. The condition worsens over time. Dr Gyawali wants to change this so he constantly tries to make people aware of bone health. He has been working on a research paper to figure out how to tackle the situation.

He emphasizes the importance of reducing implant costs, suggesting measures like government-backed insurance policies, tax exemptions on equipment, and promoting collaborations. He believes the government must prioritize the health of its people by investing in dependable and high-quality equipment rather than heavily relying on international funds and charity. “The government must prioritize orthopedic care as the number of patients is rising,” he says.