In 2011 The Denan Project began working with another poverty-stricken, isolated location with pressing needs, launching a special medical program for residents in the town of Tariat, Mongolia, and neighboring areas. Tariat sits at about 6,700 feet and is located in the second coldest part of Mongolia, about 670 kilometers from the capital of the country, Ulaanbaator. In winter, temperatures often go below minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Building on our initial success in health care, we have moved into education projects and are working to improve the overall quality of life in the region. In 2016, we expanded our medical support to the villagers and the hospital in the town of Erdenemandal, approximately 4-1/2 hours from Tariat.
Medical Projects in Tariat
When we arrived in 2011, the hospital in Tariat was in a terrible state of disrepair. Built by Soviets in the 1960s, the hospital contained equipment that dated back to that period and was mostly nonfunctioning. At the time, there was only one patient in the hospital, since by the end of each quarter there was no money left to buy medicines, needles, bandages, or lab supplies. Even more starkly, the hospital had no funds for heat, and young patients often died from the cold from within the hospital.
In 2014, the Mongolian government built a new hospital in Tariat, and we worked with the local Ministry of Health to help it properly serve the desperately poor people of the region year-round. In addition to providing advanced training to doctors in cardiology, pediatrics, and internal medicine, anesthesiology, and dentistry, we have also furnished advanced diagnostic, dental, surgical, and sterilizing equipment, sufficient medicines, lab supplies, needles, bandages, a new ambulance, and, critically, funds for heat, year-round. Seven children, weakened by illness, died in the hospital from lack of heat in the year before The Denan Project arrived. Since our involvement, not one child has died in the hospital because of the cold. Tuition costs have been provided to doctors who will work at the hospitals and in health posts in small outposts run by the hospital. One of the local dental students for whom we provided tuition started working at the Tariat hospital upon graduation in June 2017. We also provide funding to enable doctors working in remote health posts to reach patients in distant herder communities.
In June of 2017, we equipped and opened the first dental facility in the town of Tariat, and in 2016 began supporting the hospital in Erdenemandal. Together the two hospitals see about 40,000 patients per year. Since our involvement at the Tariat hospital, the rate of children’s acute respiratory infections in the area has been reduced by 61% — from 193 cases in 2013 to 74 in 2014. This is in addition to a substantial decline in the rate of infant and child mortality.
Education Projects in Tariat
Until recently, the population of this remote area had little to no knowledge of basic health practices such as the dangers of smoking, excessive drinking, eating a proper diet, or the necessity of washing one’s hands after handling animals or going to the bathroom. The Denan Project has paid for the publishing of simple health brochures that are handed out during regular visits by our medical outreach team to distant groups of herder families. Our team gives medical checkups during these visits; for many people these checkups are the first they have ever received.
The Denan Project also helped form a health club in the high school. Now, every week, medical professionals provide older students with health information. These uniformed health-club members then go into the lower grades and pass on what they have learned to younger students. As is common everywhere, younger kids often look up to older kids and listen more carefully to what they say. The hope is that these students will also pass on what they have learned to their parents.
We also print a monthly health newsletter to bring the latest health information to people throughout the province.
Our Partners in Mongolia
Save the Children Japan-Mongolia
The Denan Project’s partner for its Tariat and Erdenemandal programs is Save the Children Japan-Mongolia. This is the first time that Save The Children has participated in a program of this kind anywhere in the world. It makes quarterly visits to the remote sites in Tariat and Erdenemandal and compiles timely reports.
The Arkhangai Provincial Health Department
The Minister of Health of Arkhangai Province provides guidance and cooperation for The Denan Project’s program for the Tariat and Erdenemandal Hospitals.
Facts & Figures
The two hospitals we support in Mongolia serve more than 40,000 people per year
Children’s acute respiratory infections have been reduced by 61% since our involvement
Infant and child mortality rates reduced significantly since our arrival
State of the art medical and dental equipment provided
Medical education outreach targets distant herder families
Provided tuition for doctors and dentist at both hospitals enabling them to get their degrees in pediatrics, cardiology, internal medicine, anesthesiology, and dentistry
Honored in July 2017 with a special gold medal award from the Minister of Health of Mongolia in recognition of the remarkable improvement in health we have made in the Arkhangai Province and towns in which we work