On most treks, you will always be within a few days of medical help. If you are on a group trek, the leader should have the medical knowledge necessary to deal with emergencies and evacuation. If you are on your own, you will have to shoulder most of the responsibility for medical problems yourself. The sherpas who will accompany you are not doctors, nor are they first aid practitioners. It is essential that you bring your own first aid kit and be prepared to take care of your own blisters, cuts and scrapes. In the event of a real emergency, the sherpa sirdar will do his best to get you transported quickly to a qualified physician or an airstrip from which you may be evacuated to Kathmandu.
The supplies listed here are recommended for any trek. Since some of them are prescription drugs, you should visit your doctor and discuss the trip with them and obtain prescriptions. If your doctor makes recommendations contrary to the suggestions here, follow your doctor’s advice, and obtain substitutes for these items. It is not necessary to burden yourself with a lot of medicines for the trek, though you should carry enough to take care of minor problems. The ones listed here are sufficient for most situations. You should be sure to provide your supply of own aspirin, band aids, etc. If you are taking an extended trek, you should consult Dr David Shlim’s medical chapter in Stan Armington’s Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya and equip your party to deal with possible problems and emergencies.
Basic first aid supplies
- Suntan lotion or sun blocking cream
- Lip salve (Chapstick, Blistex, or Glacier Cream)
- Foot powder
- Bandaids (plasters) and tape
- Moleskin or other blister pads
- Elastic (Ace) bandage
- Antiseptic cream
- Throat lozenges or cough drops
- Decongestant tablets
- Iodine – small bottle for water purification
- Toilet paper & matches or a cigarette lighter to burn used TP
- Bactrim, Norbactin or other diarrhoea remedy
Your own physician and your local Public Health Service are the best sources of information about immunisations necessary for Nepal. The list of recommended injections here includes immunisations usually recommended for trekkers in Nepal. Hepatitus and Meningitis protection is also strongly recommended. It is a good practice to have your jabs recorded in a yellow international health certificate.
- Polio (oral)
- Malaria (only if you will be visiting a jungle lodge)
- Meningitis Meningococcal A/C vaccine
Some Advice about Food and Water
In Nepal you should drink only treated water and eat only freshly cooked food. You should always wash your hands before eating, especially if you eat things like biscuits and bread with your fingers. If you follow these simple rules, you should not experience any severe stomach problems. Be forewarned, however, that it is not unusual to have some mild diarrhoea in Nepal while your system adapts to a new environment. If, however, you have diarrhoea accompanied by severe cramps, high fever and chills, you may have a bacterial or parasitic infection that requires additional medication. For any medical advice and assistance you require in Kathmandu go to the CIWEC Clinic, near the Yak & Yeti Hotel, phone 228531.
The food in most hotels in Kathmandu should pose no health problem. Some conservative physicians recommend that you yourself see any water you drink boiled or treat the water yourself with iodine. The bottled mineral water available in Kathmandu is the safest water to drink. Do not drink tap water under any circumstances. If you eat in restaurants outside the hotel, you should follow the cooked foods rule. Salads and fruits that cannot be peeled should be regarded with suspicion. Open air sweets, dried fruits, local chhang, candy coloured soda pop in the bazaar, and the wares of small pie shops are all tempting, but can harbour germs and parasites that can upset your stomach and ruin your trek. During the trek, the sherpa cook and kitchen crew thoroughly cook all food and wash dishes in boiling water. You should have no stomach problems if you eat only the food served by the sherpas. The most important consideration for staying healthy is to take extra care with your own personal hygiene. Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently in the washing water that the sherpas provide.
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