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Modern Medicine and International Aid: Khunde Hospital, Nepal, 1966-1998

Peter A. Leggat, MD, PhD
JAMA. 2011;306(17):1927-1928. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1595.
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Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008) is one of the most revered expeditioners of the 20th century. His groundbreaking ascent of Mount Everest with Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953, is still regarded as one of the greatest human achievements of modern times.1 However, few will be aware of Sir Edmund's philanthropy, in particular his establishment of the Himalayan Trust in 19642 to attract international aid to build schools, hospitals, and bridges to assist the Sherpa people in Nepal.1 One of the most notable but little-known of his achievements was the construction of the Khunde Hospital in 1964, which has been sustained by a mix of international volunteer and trained local health care workers. Modern Medicine and International Aid: Khunde Hospital, Nepal, 1966-1998 is a unique story of an international aid project that has become a celebrated symbol of Sir Edmund, the “hero” of Everest. The project clearly stands as an interface between modern Western medicine and the traditional beliefs and practices of the local Sherpa people.


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