Health and Safety

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altWhile Kathmandu has the best health care in Nepal, the further you go out into the rural areas the more the standards decline. In some of the mountainous areas there may be no health clinics at all; trekkers who become unwell are airlifted to Kathmandu or overseas if it is really serious. Evacuation by air, if you are seriously ill or injured, can be shockingly expensive, hence it is best that you research the places and terrain you want to travel/trek in thoroughly and take out adequate health insurance. Likewise, ask your doctor to give you a written description of your condition (if needed) and the generic names of your medication in case you must visit a doctor in Nepal. A thorough dental examination is mandatory as dental care is difficult to find outside Kathmandu. People who wear contact lenses need to take care in terms of hygiene and bring plenty of eye solution and back-up glasses/lenses as the city is very dusty.

As mentioned in the Visa Information section, you don’t need any immunisations to enter Nepal. However many tropical diseases are present in the country and if you decide to explore off the well beaten tracks, it is encouraged to take extra precautions. Is it advisable to visit your doctor at least six weeks before you intend to visit Nepal, as vaccinations may need multiple injections before they take effect. Discuss your health requirements with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or suffer from allergies, and record any vaccinations you might need on an International Health Certificate.

Medical Clinics

CIWEC Clinic Travel Medicine Center
Location: Lazimpat, Kathmandu
PO Box 12895 Kathmandu, Nepal

Tel: 977 1 442 4111 (Medical Unit)
Tel: 977 1 444 0100 (Dental Unit)

To the northeast of Thamel and across from the British Embassy, this clinic is used by many foreigners. A doctor is on call 24hrs a day and the staff is mostly foreign as well.

Nepal International Clinic

Location: Laldurbar, Kathmandu
GPO BOX 3596,Nepal

Tel: 977 1 4434 642/ 4435357 (24 hour answering service)
Known Infectious Diseases in Nepal

•    Conjunctivitis
•    Hepatitis: Hepatitis A and E are transmitted by contaminated drinking water and food. Only consume water and food that you are sure has been prepared hygienically. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood (unsterilized needles, sexual contact and blood transfusions); risky situations can include tattoo and body piercing.
•    HIV/AIDS: a growing problem in Nepal, this disease can be spread by needles and blood transfusions as well as sexual contact. Avoid having blood transfusions unless in an emergency and always insist on brand-new disposable needles and syringes for injections.
•    Malaria: Transmitted by mosquitoes, the risk to travellers is very low, especially in Kathmandu and Pokhara. However if you are visiting the Terai, especially during the monsoon season, take anti-malarial tablets. In general take mosquito repellent with you as dengue fever can also be transmitted by these insects.
•    Rabies: Feral dogs and monkeys are the main carriers of this disease in Nepal so be aware when petting animals. A person can be immunised after being exposed. The CIWEC has information plus the vaccine as does the Nepal International Clinic.
•    Respiratory Infections: mostly the common cold, given the high altitude, cold weather, pollution, smoking and overcrowded conditions. However, while not really needing treatment, some infections can lead to bronchitis and pneumonia; seek medical help in his situation.
•    Sexually transmitted infections
•    Traveller’s Diarrhoea: this disease is one of those things in Nepal – everyone gets it at some point and it usually goes away after a few days. In these cases dehydration is the worst symptom and soda water, flat soft drink mixed with diluted water or weak black tea with a little sugar is recommended to replace lost fluids. Stick to a bland diet while you recover. Check with your health care professional in terms of medication to take in extreme cases. Other infections associated with diarrhoea are amoebic dysentery, cyclospora and giardiasis; see your health care professional concerning these diseases.

Below is a list for the environmental hazards concerning Nepal. However this list is more for if you decided to go trekking in the mountains, rather than staying within Kathmandu.

Environmental Hazards

•    Acute Mountain Sickness
•    Acclimatisation
•    Bedbugs, lice and scabies: they live in dirty mattresses and bedding, if you notice small blood stains then sleep somewhere else. Calamine lotion or a sting-relief spray can help for the bedbugs. Powder/shampoo treatment for the lice which is spread from person to person; wash infections clothes with hot, soapy water and leave out in the sun to dry. Medicated creams for rabies which are also spread by person to person.
•    Leeches
•    Frostbite
•    Sunburn
•    Heat Exhaustion
•    Hypothermia

The most common problem in Kathmandu is that is sometimes the centre for political demonstrations, strikes and the occasional curfew. While they generally affect transport, they have been known to turn violent so be cautious when going out during these times. Strikes (bandhas) can shut down shops and transport so be careful.

One of the most annoying, yet distinctive, problems Kathmandu suffers from is electricity cuts (‘load shedding’) that can last for up to 16 hours a day. Electricity is currently rationed in the city, moving from district to district every eight or so hours. Most hotels post a schedule of the planned cuts so always check; alternatively choose a hotel with a generator and make sure your room is not close to it (they can be annoyingly loud).

In the Thamel district watch out for crazy motorcyclists, pollution, and the chess/tiger balm sellers. In Durbar Square you’ll find a lot of ‘guides’ so be aware and always go with an accredited tour agency. If you take a photo of one of the holy men expect to pay a tip for your photo; likewise if the Thamel ‘holy men’ anoint you with a tika on your forehead, they’ll expect a tip for their efforts.

Women travellers should have no problem in Nepal as it is regarded as a safe country. Having said that, women should still dress modestly (covered shoulders and thighs) and sexual harassment does exist but is low-key. Should you decide to go trekking the Chhetri Sisters Trekking (+977 (0)61 462066 (Office)) in Pokhara is run by women and provides female staff for trekking.


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