The Himalayan Rescue Association Nepal has recently organized a temporary health camp at Gosainkunda, a famous pilgrimage site during Janaipurnima festival. The HRA has been running this free health camp to the pilgrims since 1997 to save the life of the pilgrims in this religious site. Gosainkunda situated at an altitude of 4,380m. is a very famous religious lake where it is believed that Lord Shiva reside to the lake to relieve his distress from swallowing the poison, and that he still rests in the calm of the divine lake. It is also believed that if one takes a 'holy dip' in the lake during Janaipurnima time, s/he would share a place in the heaven by the grace of god. Thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the country visit this sacred lake during Janaipurnima to take a holy dip into the lake every year.

As Gosainkunda is located at very high altitude region and pilgrims have the tendency of ascending fast, many pilgrims are very prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Pilgrims are not aware of the symptoms of AMS and other mountain hazards. They do not think that they are going to suffer from altitude illness; rather they feel that they have committed sin in their life that is causing sickness. With this superstitious belief, they try harder their attempt to visit Gosainkunda lake at any cost. As they do not pay attention to the symptoms of AMS (basically they ignore the symptoms) and keep going up higher, which causes them become very sick and some times may die. In this view, HRA operates a temporary health camp to the pilgrims for a free of cost at Gosainkunda during Janaipurnima festival every year.

This year in August 2nd, 2014 (17th Shrawan, 2071), a 9 member medical team led by Mr. Gobinda Bashyal, Officer-HRA, left to Dhunche and arrived in Gosainkunda on 5th August and started working from the same day until 10th August, 2014.

The HRA Health camp provided medical facilities to 788 patients this year. Among them 15 were seriously ill and helped them to bring down to lower altitude after the treatment at the health camp. We all know that the first treatment of severe altitude illness is descend. One young (early twenties) patient was even found unconscious due to HACE in a hotel, oxygen and necessary treatment was applied immediately and arranged carried down to lower altitude. Thank god he was saved!

Besides altitude illness (AMS, HACE, HAPE) cases, other medical problems such as diahhrea, injury, cuts, conjunctivitis, muscular pain, common cold, gastritis, other abdominal pain and problems etc. were treated from the health camp. There were couple of suturing cases also reported at the health camp.

HRA not only treating the patients but also disseminating the information about altitude illness by distributing the brochures written about Gosainkunda and Acute Mountain Sickness to the pilgrims so as to make them fully aware about the problems at high altitude. This brochure was so popular that there is higher number of brochures demand for the next year from the local authorities.

Likewise, HRA organized a talk program for the people of Bhaktapur and Madhyapur Thimi to provide them information about altitude sickness and Gosainkunda trek as this pilgrimage site is very popular in this region. Mr. Kumar Ranabhat, Mr. Gobinda Bashyal, Dr. Matiram Pun and Dr. Maniraj Neupane briefed the crowd and slide show presentation was carried out.

Last but not least, I admire the hard work that the team has done to save the life of pilgrimage; our Medical Team has worked all day and night. We can clearly say that if HRA team was not present, there would be couple of deaths every year. We are very grateful to the Mountain Medicine Society of Nepal (MMSN) for the great help providing such energetic and enthusiastic doctors team every year for the health camp. Continuation of such noble work is highly remarkable and happy to be a part of it.

Name list of Gosainkunda Temporary Health Camp Team 2014

1.    Gobinda Bashyal – Team Leader
2.    Bhuwan Acharya
3.    Dr. Nirajan Regmi
4.    Dr. Sujan Jamarkattel
5.    Dr. Shankar Raj Lamichhane
6.    Dr. Subarna Gautam
7.    Dr. Matiram Pun
8.    Dr. Ken Zafren
9.    Mr. Suman Acharya – Medical Student

May lord Shiva provide a good and healthy life to everyone, JAI HOS!!!

Gobinda Bashyal
Officer, HRA

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