Namaste Bangladesh

Trip report from Josephine…

Namaste, a simple greeting with a profound meaning: “bow down to the supreme-being within.”

It resonates perfectly with the reason we are in Bangladesh, acknowledging the supreme-being within our patients and a belief that each of us has the divine right to receive good medical care.

For 4 years, Uncle Sakti has traveled to the remote LAMB hospital, this being my second trip, I am again struck by the need for urologists in the area.

Josephine H Tamola, Sakti Das & Tina SasakiWe were accompanied by Dr. Ganesh Gopalakrishnan, the premier reconstructive surgeon in India, Tina Sasaki, a general surgery resident from Alameda County Medical Center, and Dr. Preman, a UK anesthesiologist.

The patients have been waiting a year for our team to arrive, having traveled long distances for surgery or just a clinical consultation. With help from our LAMB colleagues, we tackled complex urological surgeries such as vesicovaginal fistulas, urethral strictures and hypospadias.

Urological conditions significantly impact quality of life. Women with vesicovaginal fistulas are ostracized from society because of the constant leakage of urine. Urinary obstruction from stricture disease results in prolonged catherization and severe morbidity. These conditions occur in young men and women with no other comorbidities – patients suffer for decades with these problems.

Surgery has changed patients’ quality of life, allowing them to shed the social stigma associated with their urological condition. I feel truly privileged to have the trust of my patients and I am blessed to offer my service.

This brings me back to the greeting namaste. Our work here in Bangladesh made me serve and prostrate to the supreme-being in my patients, allowing that supreme-being to manifest its full potential.

Insha’Allah I shall return to the enchanting land of Bangladesh to serve the wonderful people here.

Photo: Josephine H Tamola – Sakti Das – Tina Sasaki

My annual pilgrimage to the land of my ancestors

Bangladesh, a land of lush verdant fields resplendent with abundant crops, rivers and waterways crowded with Rui, Katla, Hilsa, all kinds of delectable fishes, even the memories make you salivate and crave with desire.

I imagine the boats gliding over the gentle shimmering water transporting or fishing and the boatmen singing with the backdrop of setting sun at the dusk. Nostalgia makes me ache.

This beautiful nation of millions of warm, cordial and naïve people is on the verge of oblivion.

Global warming is creating havoc, gradually submerging Bangladesh from rising water table, destroying the flora and fauna of the Sunderbans, displacing and drowning people from cyclones and flood.

FlickrThis is a unique example of the nonchalant disregard of our developed world to the plight of humanity at the other end of the world.

It is a mayhem resulting from our actions.

It is a shameful example of how we are striving to maintain our style of living and our extravagant quality of life at the cost of drowning Bangladesh through abysmal climate change.

Yes, Bangladesh can and will survive by its own moral and intellectual strength, but each one of us should nudge ourselves up from complacency and help reverse the calamity that is our doing, our responsibility.

Let us work from individual actions to concerted political pressures to save Bangladesh, my beautiful Bangladesh, my golden Bangladesh.

– Sakti Das, 2009.

  • Dr Das will have a post about his trip and work on the medical mission in Bangladesh when he gets back – or he might even blog on the road!

  • Comment & Share! Use the links to leave your comments/thoughts and share this with others. You can also contact me using the ‘Contact’ links.

Foundation for Freedom TV Interview

The Foundation for Freedom serves the poverty stricken people around the world by supporting schools in Asia, the Americas and Africa. In this show Community Balance’s host, Suzanne Barnett interviews Dr. Sakti Das and Niall Battson about the Foundation and it’s work establishing schools in India, Latin America and Africa.”
– August 7, 2009 – Community Balance @ KMTV

My Painful Musings on the Suffering of the African Woman from Obstetric Fistula

Constantly in pain, incontinent of urine and feces, bearing a heavy burden of sadness in discovering their child stillborn, ashamed of a rank personal offensiveness, abandoned therefore by their husbands, outcasts of society, they live, they exist, without friends and without hope.
– Reginald Hamlin & Catherine Nicholson, 1966

Nearly half a century later, that scenario of obstetric fistula continues to haunt the humanity and has been aptly termed ‘the scandal of the century’.

Between 2 and 3 million women, mostly in Africa, are in need of surgical repair with about 130,000 new patients being added annually.

This colossal embarrassment of our male dominated society will not be solved unless we address the root causes of lack of empowerment. In these societies, a woman’s low socioeconomic status and illiteracy often lead to child marriage followed by early pregnancy. The lack of obstetric care causes obstructed labor and ultimately complex injuries to vagina, bladder and rectum. In the worst case maternal death – which needlessly claims one woman a minute.

Unfortunately our developed world with its economic clout is not willing to come up with any significant help to emancipate the young women of the developing world with education and empowerment, nor with help in providing effective systems of maternal health care. Thus safe motherhood has largely become an orphan initiative.

Historically however we owe it to the African women for our knowledge and surgical technical developments in repairing these injuries. These surgeries were mostly initiated in the US through painful and degrading experiments on the enslaved women in the antebellum south in the 19th century. Those slaves from Africa sacrificed their dignity in muted agony without consent to the extremely painful experiments enforced upon them without anesthesia by racist white physicians and slave owners.

And now after centuries, our complacency in extending any helping hand to the African women is unacceptable and disgraceful.

Watch a webcast of my presentation Vesico-vaginal Fistula Management: A Tribute to Anarcha, Betsy, Lucy and the Hamlins at the 4th International Congress on the History of Urology.

– Sakti Das, 2009.

  • Comment & Share! Use the links to leave your comments/thoughts and share this with others. You can also contact me using the ‘Contact’ links.


A Walk to Beautiful” – Emmy Award winning feature-length documentary tells the stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer from devastating childbirth injuries and embark on a journey to reclaim their lost dignity. Rejected by their husbands and ostracized by their communities, these women are left to spend the rest of their lives in loneliness and shame. They make the choice to take the long and arduous journey to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in search of a cure and a new life. [PBS/Nova]


Professor Emeritus of Urology presently working at Alameda County Medical Center. He is inspired by a passion to teach as well as by a passion to help the underserved. This is both what keeps him grounded in the East Bay as well as what motivates him to serve internationally. For the last two decades, he’s traveled around the globe to work in partnership with others on International medical missions. He has also supported several primary education centers in the developing world and, in doing so, has been the motivating force behind Foundation For Freedom.