Mountains and Medicines: History and Medicines Use in Rural Nepal - Southern Med Review Vol 4 Issue 1 April 2011
(2011; 5 pages)


The aim of this article is to highlight the value of an historical approach for current health research into access and use of medicines. It also suggests that historical research complements the perspectives of other social science disciplines. This study focuses on the rugged Mt Everest region of Nepal and the mainly Sherpa inhabitants from the 1960s through to the present. It draws on an in-depth historical case study of Khunde Hospital, which is the main provider of health services in the area, and an exploratory study of people’s use of medicines over time. This historical perspective deepens our understanding of both the consumer and provider of medicines in the Everest area. The research employs a variety of qualitative methods and uses a wide range of written and oral, primary and secondary, published and unpublished sources as well as participant observation and further fieldwork. Multiple separate and interconnected factors have influenced medicines use over time. The study identifies the importance of medicines in the introduction and spread of "modern" medicine in the area, but like elsewhere in the Himalayan region modern health care and its medicines are used within a plural medical environment. The Mt Everest region has become a major tourist destination which has led both to considerable economic development in the area but has also influenced the supply and use of medicines. While medicines use unsurprisingly is different today, this development overall has occurred within a framework of both continuity and change that underpins Sherpa life more broadly.

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