None too similar are the hygienic conditions in Europe and Nepal. Therefore we want to give several information regarding preparation and the life to be expected here to our future volunteers coming from abroad.
Since the hygienical circumstances are not on the same level as in Europe, some of the food and the water from the water pipe can contain harmful bacteria. That is the reason why a lot of people have some problems with the food at the beginning of their stay in Nepal. Diarrhoea can be a result of the local hygienical conditions. Due to this you should only drink cooked or filtered water. Also the sealed water can be consumed without any concerns. Concerning the food one should always follow the principle: ‘cook it, peel it, or forget it!’
Even if you are very careful, there is still a high probability that you will get diarrhoea eventually. Nevertheless one has to distinguish between harmless stomach problems and serious infections like typhus or amoeba. Basically it is recommended to regularly wash your hands properly and to pay attention to what you consume. In case of a serious infection, local hospitals are well prepared concerning these health issues.
When talking about health in Nepal, diseases caused by mosquitos also have to be mentioned. Nowadays the risk of a malaria infection is only present in the very south of the country called Terai. However there have been some cases of the dengue fever within the Kathmandu valley and some cases of the Japanese encephalitis in the country side. It is possible to get a vaccination against Japanese encephalitis, which is however very controversial among experts. The prevention of a mosquito bite is probably the best self-protection. There are several things to consider: You should wear light-colored clothes and use a good mosquito-repellent (e.g. Autan, Anti-Brumm, Nobite,…) during the daytime. Using an impregnated mosquito net during the night is also very important and can reduce the risk of an infection.
Before coming to Nepal it is necessary to ensure that the basic protection provided by vaccinations, which is also recommended in Germany, is existing. These include polio (infantile paralysis), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), mumps, measles, rubella and hepatitis B. In case of a longer stay in Nepal you should also take into consideration vaccinations against hepatitis A, typhoid and maybe rabies. Find more information on the website of the experts. The team of the CIWEC Clinic in Kathmandu wrote very elaborated recommendations. These can be found on their website.
This would also be the place where you can catch up with your vaccinations if the time in your home country was not sufficient anymore.
Although some common medicines are also available in Nepali pharmacies, certain medicines should be taken from home. Especially medicine which is only available on prescription should be bought before your stay in Nepal. Natural medicine can be found but without the necessary language skills and the knowledge where they sell it, it will be hard to find the right thing. If you prefer homoeopathic and similar alternative medicine, also bring some of this things from home.
Primarily, when travelling through Nepal, strong and reliable medicine against diarrhoea is of essential importance. Things like pain relievers, sterile dressing material, electrolyte solutions, condoms, tampons and birth control pills, as well as ear plugs are also suggested. If you want to travel further into the country, it is useful to take water purification tablets.
It is important to notice that these information cannot replace a consultation with an experienced medicine or a detailed preparation. These are only first information about Nepal and the current local conditions, which should help to give a rough overview about this topic.
Hospitals, Practitioners, Pharmacies
The common structure of practioners in European countries can not be found in Nepal. Medical advice and doctors are to be found in hospitals. Bhaktapur has 3 hospitals from which the Iwamura Hospital in Sallaghari - which is run as a private hospital - is the most recommended one for consultation in most cases. With the attached lab, X-ray and Ultrasound they can make most of the basic checkups.
For small diseased like the common cold or a simple diarrhoea pharmacies can directly help. In Bhaktapur you find plenty of smaller or bigger pharmacies, which are normally open from 6 A.M. till 8 P.M. and can provide you with basic medicine like Paracetamol, cough remidies, electrolyte solutions, cortison creams, eye drops, condoms a.o.
There are different approaches to alternative medicine in Nepal even if they are harder to use for non-Nepali-speaking residents. Ayurvedic pharmacies can be found along the street, which provide you with remedies to all small and big diseases. Owners most often only speak Nepali.
In some places Amchis can be found. Amchis are doctors, which work according to the Tibetan medicine. Therefore they mainly are found in Tibetan focussed areas.
The CIWEC Clinic close to the british embassy provides very good information on different health related issues on their website for further information.
It was really a great experience to be a volunteer in VHS. I got to learn so much about Nepal through my time in VHS that would not imagine myself be into one culture so much without this exeperience.
The induction into Nepalese culture was so useful and mind-blowing. I have got as much support as I need here that living in Nepal was not only easy but was also very enjoyable..
In addition, I was truly amazed...
After two and a half months which I spent at VHS, I have only words of thanks and appreciation for the whole VHS-team. I fully enjoyed my work as a German teacher there.
Moreover, Nepal is a wonderful country, and thanks to my colleagues, I could immerse myself into the culture and local life of Nepali people. I hope that someday I'll visit Bhaktapur again!