Book review: the dynamics of health in Nepal

[PHP Nepal Vol 5 Issue 2 Feb 2015] | ‘The Dynamics of Health in Nepal’, a multi-contributor book, edited by Sharada Prasad Wasti, Padam Simkhada and Edwin van Teijlingen has precisely outlined the dynamics of health in Nepal across 13 different chapters. The editors of this book are national and international academicians and public health professionals.

This book aims to present a wide range of topics related to health and social issues which have immense relevance in Nepalese context. The topics are presented in an innovative way which is noteworthy. For instance, the topics are critically discussed with supportive data and statistics mainly derived from different research conducted in Nepal. 

In the first chapter ‘Nepal Is Changing: Modernization and Diversity in Healthcare,’ the editors set the scene of Nepal in a rapidly changing world. They outline key social, economic and political changes in the country that affect the health and well-being of Nepalese. This is followed by a chapter which discusses how deeply rooted customs and practices have adversely affected newborn health especially in rural Nepal. The authors recommend for appropriate health interventions that positively influence behavioral change in the community.

Further chapters cover issues which have been in the main stream over the past decades such as HIV/AIDS and maternal health. The socio-cultural aspects of HIV/AIDS are explored from a broader point of view. The authors have highlighted the significant role of women’s education and empowerment in maternal mortality reduction in Nepal.

Subjects which have been historically missing from major academic works in Nepal are extensively covered in separate chapters such as issues related to the elderly care, Dalit (lower caste) community, rebel health services. The authors have pointed out an urgent need of comprehensive formal support system to ensure the elderly with an acceptable quality of life. Health and social issues of migrants and left behind families are explored in a separate chapter. However, recommending a collaborative effort to maintain health and well being of prospective migrants and their families sound slightly vague.

Role of media in health is also discussed in a different chapter. Appropriate references for the given evidences are provided after each chapter. Evidences from countries other than Nepal are also provided, mainly on the topics lacking relevant literature from Nepal such as ‘sex and relationship’. It not only presents problem situations which is certainly not unexpected from a less developed country but also provides applicable and appropriate recommendations for improvement.

Undoubtedly, the book speaks to many different individuals on many different levels because of the coverage it provides and therefore appeals to a great deal of readers. A variety of topics and non-linear format of each chapter keeps this book from becoming a monotonous source of information. 

In the chapter ‘The Emerging Health problems of non-communicable diseases’, the authors have highlighted the impact of risk factor on the future generation. Indeed it is written that “The time lag effect of risk factors for NCDs will only be seen in the future, especially among children”(p.162). Such illustration is very much generalisable even in the context of any developed country. 

Individuals interested in issues about mental health, environmental health, nutrition and other communicable diseases might perceive important issues have been left out which could have rather replaced a separate chapter on ‘Injury and its prevention'.

Overall, the book has lived up to the essence of its title making it a must read for health workers, health policy makers, health activists, academicians, students, professionals or anyone who is interested in exploring the dynamics of health and social issues in Nepal.

About the book: 

SP Wasti, P Simkhada, E Teijlingen. The Dynamics of Health in Nepal. Kathmandu: Social Science Baha. 2015. ISBN: 9789937290951

Price: Rs 800

Book is available at:

Himal Books, Himal Kitab Pvt Ltd, 521 Narayan Gopal Sadak, Lazimpat, Kathmandu-2, Nepal

Green Tara Nepal, Baluwatar, Kathmandu, Phone: +977-01-4432698, POB 8974, EPC 158 

Samridhi Pradhan is a Research and Evaluation Officer in Green Tara Nepal.

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