Binaytara Foundation opens first cancer center in southeast Nepal

BINAYTARA Foundation co-founders Dr. Binay Shah and Tara Shah have opened the first cancer center in southeast Nepal, bringing affordable cancer care to a population area of 20 million from both Nepal and India.

The Binaytara Foundation Cancer Center officially opened December 17 in the city of Janakpur in Province 2, which is the most densely populated province in the country. The nearest cancer center was previously a full day’s drive away to the city of Kathmandu.

(Right to left) Binaytara Foundation Executive Director Tara Shah, President Dr. Binay Shah, Board Member Dr. Derrel Walker and Kim Walker during the grand opening ceremony of the Binaytara Foundation Cancer Center in Janakpur, Nepal.

That drive, said Dr. Binay Shah, was overly burdensome for the vast majority of residents in the region due to extreme poverty, language barriers, and more. This meant many cancers were undiagnosed or diagnosed at terminal stages.

“As one of the poorest countries in the world, cancer care in Nepal is still in its infancy,” said Dr. Shah, an oncologist and hematologist at PeaceHealth Medical Center. “Our cancer center will for the first time provide cutting-edge treatment to the citizens of southeast Nepal and parts of India.”

The center was established through Dr. Shah’s international nonprofit, the Binaytara Foundation, based in Washington state.

Lead Physician Dr. Sanjay Gupta (left) with a patient at the Binaytara Foundation Cancer Center.

Dr. Shah and other Binaytara Foundation board members visited the cancer center in December to prepare staff and infrastructure for the grand opening. The center is located inside a three-story building that’s been recently renovated. Dr. Shah personally volunteered over 80 hours during the visit to help train staff members and to establish process and service lines. He also had the chance to treat patients.

The Binaytara Foundation Cancer Center is a 25-bed hospital staffed by physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers. Some of its current services include screening, palliative care, chemotherapy, ultrasound, emergency care, and more. Infrastructure will be expanded over the next year to establish operating rooms, an intensive care unit, and endoscopy unit. The center will also be expanded to fit 200 beds in the coming years.

A lab technician at the Binaytara Foundation Cancer Center.

For Dr. Shah and Tara Shah, the grand opening of the cancer center was the culmination of years of hard work, which included endless hours of volunteering and donating their own funds toward the project.

“Everything I have done is primarily because of the moral responsibility and the passion to global citizens,” Dr. Shah said. “We are privileged. If I donate my time and part of my income, it doesn’t impact my lifestyle at all. But it has a huge impact on other people.”

The two were born and raised in Nepal before moving to the United States.

Also while in Nepal, Dr. Shah signed a memorandum of understanding with the nation’s prestigious medical school B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences. Through this partnership, the Binaytara Foundation will support establishment of the medical school’s oncology programs. In return, the school will provide certain services for Binaytara Foundation Cancer Center patients until the center is fully built.

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