Nepal’s medical history


Nepal’s Quest for Health by Dr Hemang Dixit published by the Educational Publishing House is a book meant for all readers who want to know the medical history of the country. The third edition of Quest for Health, name changed to Nepal’s Quest for Health, was published recently. Its first edition was printed in 1995, second in 1998 and reprinted in 2000. Most of the incidents mentioned help one understand the exact medical situation in the country of yore. His knowledge of medical history and what needs to be done to enhance the medical fraternity here is par excellence. The chapter ‘Medicine in the beginning and Health Care Development during Rana regime’ is worth reading as it provides the true picture of our society. It states that in November 1851, Jung Bahadur Rana’s brother’s wife preferred to die when she fell sick after giving birth to a baby rather than be treated by a male doctor from Europe, Dr Oldfield.

The book has, however, not been able to address the present situation and the government’s latest strategies to achieve targets. It does address the success of the malaria control campaign of 2005 or how close we have come to achieve the targets set by the government. The author has not been able to point out what can be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It would have been better if Dixit could have analysed the situation. For example only three doctors applied to go to serve in 25 low Human Development Index (HDI) districts. The government quota is for 25 and the salary is thrice than what is normally paid to government appointed doctors.

He has mentioned that (pg 159) Development of Health Services — the expansion of the health services both in the government and the private sector is little compared to the increase of the population, which is apt. The author, however, has not mentioned where exactly do we stand in 2005 and how far we need to go regarding the MDGs in which three of the eight goals are directly health related — reducing maternal mortality, reducing child mortality and controlling diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS. The book is more of an overview of the diseases, and government and non-government organisations’ policies.