University News

Med student brings health care to rural Nepal

Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Though Dan Schwarz MD’12 will not receive his medical degree for six months, he already oversees the operations of an international public health organization.

Schwarz serves as the chief operating officer of Nyaya Health, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that aims “to provide free community-based health care in rural Nepal that strengthens the public sector,” according to the organization’s mission statement.

He began volunteering with the nonprofit in 2009. Early the next year, he took academic leave from Alpert Medical School and moved to Nepal to work with the organization full time.

Founded in 2006 by three Yale students, Nyaya Health has become a driving force in providing health care in the community of Achham, an area that was in “substantial need of services,” Schwarz said.

Nyaya — which is affiliated with Partners in Health, a prominent public health non-profit — founded a clinic in 2008 that provided outpatient-based services, Schwarz said. A year later, Nyaya opened a full-scale hospital, which has treated almost 100,000 patients to date, he said.

Nyaya has also created opportunities for employment in the region. “We have a staff approaching 150 people in the hospital and in the community, and they’re all local Nepali people who are employed and otherwise did not previously have jobs,” Schwarz said.

In addition to the staff, the organization employs four Nepalese doctors.

Schwartz has said new technology has proven helpful in running the organization effectively. Through Global Health Delivery Online, which he likened to Facebook for health care providers, he has been able to coordinate efforts with a hospital in a neighboring region.

“I think, for me, what’s most rewarding and most important, is a development of a health system where there previously was none,” Schwarz said. “And, the opportunity to say everyday that there is health care being provided to people who previously did not have any access to care at all.”