Sunday, October 21, 2012

Great Health Care in Nepal? Are You Kidding?

Great Health Care in Nepal?
Are You Kidding?

When I got sick from the changing season by picking up a virus Suman took me to an excellent hospital in Bhaktapur. But during my exam I kept hearing what I thought was a man crying. Then as I listened better I realized we are getting very close to Dasain and it was probably not a human. Sure enough, when I looked out the back door I saw the cutest little goat. As the doctor told me when my husband was in the hospital for his last time, “Not everyone leaves the hospital by going home,” that surely was the case with this little guy with the big ears. Few goats, chickens and buffaloes are safe during this time of the year. As I walked home recently I walked passed a goat head as a couple of men were almost ready to take it to temple.

This was actually the third visit to this hospital and each time was a godsend. The last time, a few months ago, I thought I had dislocated my hip and the time before that I was very sick with a lung infection. Each time I received better care than what I was used to in the US. I was in and out long before I would have even seen a doctor back home. Yes, they use gloves. The hospital is clean and well organized with plenty of specialists and high tech equipment. 

Not only did I get excellent care, but the price was so low I wondered who I could tip. Even with the x-ray it only came to 1,300 NRs plus medication. You will notice that instead of having to purchase an entire bottle or box, the pharmacist merely takes out the number of pills you will need. It is very inexpensive with three types of medications costing around 250 NRs. Keep in mind that a rupee is worth about 1.2 cents based upon the US dollar. Dr. Iwamura Hospital, Sallaghari-7, Bhaktapur
Tel: 977 1 6612695, 6612705 Email:

How to keep from getting bad, counterfeit pharmaceuticals? After spending some time on the internet researching and even discussing it with a couple of pharmacists I came up with my own method. There are a few ways to prevent it, and you can let it worry you or you can use only pharmacies that have a professional, English speaking pharmacist so you can discuss better drug options with him. 

That is one method, but if you do not have a referral you need to know that many young men working at pharmacies will pull something out of a drawer that you really should wonder about. So, if you do not have a referral what to do? Go to a non-government, INGO hospital’s pharmacy. There are several hospitals funded by European agencies and although these hospitals do rent the pharmacy to independent pharmacists, the doctors will not put up with less than quality pharmaceuticals. So, my advice from my book, Nepal: A Tourist's Manual, is to use only this type of pharmacy, one attached to a non-government hospital with international fundng. Keep in mind that the hospital will have similar care as you'd hope to find in that country.

Referral for the first method: I know an honest, knowledgeable doctor trained in both Western and Eastern medicine who runs a well-stocked pharmacy with his wife. You can call Dr. Mehendra Joshe if you are in Bhaktapur or Kathmandu at 9841 245023 or 016612989. Dr. Josphe works at a hospital in Kathmandu so he can often come to you even if you are in Kathmandu. You should expect to pay under 1,000 NRs. for a doctor to come to your guesthouse. I met a doctor in Thamel trying to get businesses from guesthouses and charging 20 Euro. In this case paying more will not get you better service. The hospital only charges 20 NRs. to see a doctor, so be careful not to over-pay.
People wonder if they need to bring their own gloves and syringes to Nepal. No, you do not. Do not worry about anything like that. Just go to a non-government hospital. As I mention in the book, I went to a government hospital one time and when I went to the toilet to provide a urine specimen there was water standing on the floor and a horrible stench. They allowed me to use the nurses toilet, but there wasn’t even toilet shoes to wear so anyone using the toilet became a bacteria carrier throughout the hospital. To their credit, I was fully cured and felt better the next day. 

There are a couple of other medical facilities I would like to suggest. 

If you have a wart, mole, funky cells, acne scares or wrinkles you can drop by the Skin Hospital in Banaswor. The doctor can zap whatever you have with high tech laser equipment for under $50. There isn’t usually a long wait if you go in the afternoon. Call first to make sure the doctor is in.
Dr. Lalan Khatiwada, MD, CSLT (Korea) Dermato-venereologist, Cosmetologist & Skin-Laser Surgeon. Nepal Skin Hospital, Pvt. Ltd., Newbaneshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal. 01-4780815, 01-4780244. 

The third place I love to recommend is in Bhaktapur. The Hilltake Health Care Center is easy to find because it has the largest Shiva anywhere and sits up on a hill just outside Bhaktapur. They do many noninvasive procedures and can even do a non-surgical angioplasty and bi-pass treatments for a fraction of the price of traditional medicine. Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to come to Nepal for 6 weeks to have these treatments than to have open heart surgery or other medical procedures? This brand new facility had substantial damage during the earthquakes and still isn't back in business at the time of this update. Please contact them to see when you could schedule something. It should be back fully servicing patients soon.  

They do many Ayurvedic treatments and can even treat early stages of some types of cancer. All the treatments are completely natural.  
 Kailiashpuri, Bhaktapur, landline phone: 011-661274, 661315 Email Sumit Goyal, administrative manager:

The grounds at Hilltake are quite lovely and they have an outdoor, Indian style, vegetarian restaurant with excellent food-seemingly hygienically prepared and nice views. There is a 100 NRs. entrance fee for the day, but sometimes they have promotion, such as a complementary glass of fruit juice or mini health exam and tour of the medical facilities. Here are a few pictures....
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