Mountain medicineWhen they said a hospital in Lukla, I’d imagined a bereft, ill-equipped, shanty characteristic of government health posts outside major urban centres in the country.
When they said a hospital in Lukla, I’d imagined a bereft, ill-equipped, shanty characteristic of government health posts outside major urban centres in the country.
Sitting at 2800m, with flights into the dangerous Tenzing-Hillary Airport the most viable form of transport, what facilities would a hospital high in the mountains have, I had wondered.
To my surprise, the Pasang Lhamu Nicole Niquille Hospital, sometimes simply just called Lukla Hospital, was a clean, well-equipped facility that would give any medical institution in the Capital a run for its money.
Initiated in 2003, the hospital opened its door two years later, providing round the year medical services to the residents in the region and the clutch of travellers that pass through.
Run by the Pasang Lhamu Mountaineering Foundation, with support from the Foundation Nicole Niquille—a Swiss organistaion, the hospital employs two permanent doctors to run the general services.
While specialist services in optometry, orthopaedics, obstetrics, gynaecology, and few other fields are provided through special health camps organised from time to time.
The availability of state-of-the-art health facilities at such seemingly isolated region has come as a blessing for the residents of Lukla.
According to hospital officials, 12,000 people on average seek out its services each year.
This year, the hospital also treated three of the injured from the Goma Air crash at the Lukla Airport in May.
I first visited the hospital in the spring of 2016, when health workers were busy moving back the
equipment from a temporary shelter.
In the chaos and urgency of the moment, I had scarcely registered that it was a fully functional medical centre.
Then, when I stumbled on it again a few weeks later, I was awed and humbled by what I saw.
These are a compilation of images from those two visits.
Photos & Text: Prakash Chandra Timilsena