People’s Health in the People’s War in Nepal

Operations in Battle and Running Model Hospitals

Dipak Sapkota

Revolutionary Worker #1261, December 12, 2004, posted at

The RW received the following article from Dipak Sapkota, a correspondent for Janadesh Weekly, a pro-Maoist weekly newspaper in Nepal.

In the second week of November, the "Medical In-Charge" of the 17th Battalion of the People’s Liberation Army, Nepal Comrade Sunil, and his team operated on the tumor of Prem Karki, a civilian in Udayapur, in the mid-eastern countryside of Nepal. Mr. Karki was able to walk within a few hours after the three-member medical team, having limited surgical instruments, successfully finished the operation in Karki’s home. Mr. Karki is grateful for the medical team of the People’s Liberation Army for treating him free of cost. He had this medical problem for seven years but was not able to afford the expensive charges in the hospitals in the cities. The Medical In-Charge, Comrade Sunil, says his team had succeeded in doing a similar operation on one of the colleagues.

In the course of the People’s War in Nepal, medicine and health care is one of the main things that has been developed. This has meant developing the ability to do operations in the field of war and the successful running of model hospitals in the base areas. Now, fighters, organizers, families of martyrs, sympathizers and the people of the countryside do not have to rely on the expensive hospitals in the cities for common problems as well as for common and medium type operations.

The 17th Battalion’s Medical In-Charge Comrade Sunil gives details about the aforementioned case they had succeeded on in the second week of November. He says, "The 250 gm tumor was in the right chest of the patient for seven years and it had nearly touched the right lung. I with my colleague Comrade Gagan and Comrade Kopila cut the tumor out. We did it for free." He informs us that they use the houses of the people as they don’t have special treatment or operation rooms. They treat patients with their limited instruments and medicines. He says that he has been involved in more than one dozen raids on police posts and army barracks and has treated his injured colleagues in the course of ongoing battles.

Starting from a zero level in the initial period of the People’s War, the medical sector has now accomplished the establishment of model hospitals which are running successfully. One of these model hospitals, the one in eastern command (there are eastern, central and western commands) was established in January 2004. The Medical In-Charge of this model hospital, Comrade Himesh, says that they treat party cadres, fighters, organizers, family of martyrs, sympathizers and the people of the countryside for free of cost. He also informs that they have treated more than 10,000 party cadres in a 10-month period. This mobile type of model hospital, situated in the special district of the eastern command, not only deals with normal cases but with common operations. Four medical personnel are fully active in this hospital. This shows how the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), along with other factors of governing, has given emphasis to providing medical care. Comrade Himesh also informs us that their routines cover the running of medical treatment camps in different villages, training medical practitioners, running medical classes for party cadre and local people, and the treatment of party cadres and others.

We are now running mobile type of hospital

We interviewed Comrade Himesh, the Medical In-Charge of a model hospital under eastern command.

Q. Why do you call this a model hospital?

I have been the Medical In-Charge ever since the establishment of this hospital. As most doctors in Nepal are centralized in the cities and expensive hospitals, our party, the CPN (Maoist), developed a plan to establish model hospitals. We are on the battlefield, so this is a mobile type of hospital. The party has planned to make it permanent in the future. So now it is called a model hospital. We treat injured party cadres and people with limited instruments and medicines. And we use the houses of the people for treatment and operation rooms.

Q. When was this established and how many patients have you treated up to now?

This was established in January 2004. There are four medical activists working in this hospital full time. Up to now we have treated more than 10,000 patients. That includes party cadres, People’s Liberation Army and villagers.

Q. What kind of cases do you deal with in the course of battle? And what do you do if you cannot treat them in your hospital?

Often, the cases we deal with in the course of battles are to take out bullets, take out parts of bombs, grenades and bullets that have been in the body, dealing with cuts, stopping bleeding, injections for different purposes, to decrease the pain of injured patients, dressing of wounds and all sort of other problems. In the course of treating people we even do small and average operations. If we are not able to treat some specific problem, we have no way than to refer them to bigger hospitals in the cities.

Q. There have been articles in the news about your medical camps. Do you provide medical care only for Party people or for the common people also?

We obviously treat common people when we set up medical camps. The base of the People’s War is the people. We check up on the common people and distribute medicines as per our capacity. We also run special medical camps after some specific battles for those in the People’s Liberation Army who have been injured. And we also run these sort of camps for training medical practitioners.

Q. How do you coordinate medical treatments in the course of encounters and raids?

We are there in the raids being carried out by the People’s Liberation Army. We mostly move with the formations with the PLA. Encounters happen suddenly, so we cannot plan everything, but we promptly treat people as much as we can. In small and decentralized actions, at least one medical activist is enough. In bigger centralized actions we gather more medical activists and more medicine. But in the highest centralized actions we mobilize a formation of medical activists. We gather a lot of medicine and medical instruments. We make special plans for it with a lot of medical posts during these actions.


Most of these medical activists are members of the People’s Liberation Army, and they also handle different other posts. For instance, the Medical In-Charge of the eastern division of the PLA, Comrade Nabin, also holds the post of company vice-commissars and is a member of the sub-zonal military committee. He says that they not only treat injured colleagues but go to fight in assaults if they are needed. As the medical activists carry medicines and instruments with them, if anybody needs treatment, they are ready for it. Beside that, they set up the special management of medical facilities for political and military training. Comrade Nabin says there are two medical activists in every platoon of the PLA, three in each Company and every level of Headquarters has a medical team. The CPN (Maoist) have declared that the strength of the People’s Liberation Army is now 9 Brigades and 29 Battalions. So, we can calculate that there are more than 1,000 medical activists in the People’s War, including those in the formations of the PLA, those in different headquarters of the PLA, in different model hospitals and organizing committees. Comrade Nabin tells us that dozens of these kinds of medical activists have been killed by the Royal Army and the police.

With the large participation of women in the PLA and in other organizations, a lot of females are active in the medical field as well. These female medical activists even hold the post of In-Charge in different departments of the PLA, organizations and in local states. Comrade Nishana, the Medical In-Charge of the 6th Brigade of the PLA, is one of these women leaders. She says she feels pleasure in treating injured comrades and thinks that a medical activist should be a good planner, an intelligent teacher, a visionary leader and an expert fighter.

Most of the medical activists in the People’s War have not finished their doctorate course, and most of those who are trained in the course of the People’s War have taken courses to train as health assistants for a very short time and have limited experience. The policy of developing "barefoot doctors" that was developed under Mao Tsetung in China is now being implemented in Nepal.

Along with these positive factors, medical activists in the People’s War also face a lot of problems. They lack medical instruments, medicine, treatment rooms and a lot of other things. But despite these difficulties, with the creative usages of primitive medicines available in the countryside, dedication to their responsibility and efforts to serve party cadres and the people, these medical activists are progressing every day.