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Meet Dr Santosh Banyia, vice president of the International Society for Mountain Medicine.

5 August, 2022
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We’re thrilled to present Dr. Santosh Banyia, one of our amazing speakers at Expedition Medicine this august. An emergency physician with a profound theoretical and practical knowledge of mountain medicine.

  • What made you pursue a career in altitude medicine?

I was simply drawn by the mountains from the very beginning. In medical school, I got the opportunity to learn about mountain medicine and since then I always wanted to pursue a career in altitude medicine.

  • In your experience, what are the most common mistakes expedition doctors do?

I would list out a few common mistakes:

  • Expedition doctors (beginners) lack in preparing medical kits for expeditions. Mostly doctors over-prepare with unnecessary medical devices and drugs and miss out on very important medicines and basic equipment.
  • Expedition doctors may think the job is to take care of the team during the expedition only but the process starts before and after the expedition. A comprehensive pre-expedition and post-expedition planning and execution is also equally important which involves pre-travel GP consultation, vaccination, knowing co-morbidities of clients, etc.
  • Some expedition doctors don’t realize the importance of rapport building and good/sound communication. It’s very important to know the clients properly so talking to them, knowing them properly, sharing the culture, food, etc creates trust in the team and challenging moments can be effectively handled.
  • What is the biggest danger with altitude expeditions?

The possibility that one can potentially die is the biggest danger with altitude expeditions. Unexpected natural calamities like avalanches, snowstorms, etc, and severe altitude illness can be fatal.

  • What do you always have in your first-aid kit?

A few things I always bring are:

  • Life-saving drugs (Epinephrine)
  • Trauma kit (bandages, betadine, band-aids, splint, etc)
  • Altitude medicine drugs (Acetazolamide, Dexamethasone, Nefidipine)
  • Antibiotics (Ciprofloxacin, Azithromycin)
  • Over the counter drugs (Paracetamol, ibuprofen, ondansetron, loperamide, cinnarizine, codeine, antihistamine, ORS, pantoprazole, etc)
  • Basic devices (Stethoscope, pulse oximeter, glucometer)
  • Creams, ointments, and drops (Steroid cream, antifungal cream, lignocaine gel, tears supplements, etc)

About the speaker

Growing up in the laps of Annapurna Range, Dr Santosh Baniya has always been drawn to the mountains. As a member of Mountain Medicine Society of Nepal (MMSN) and the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) he has been heavily involved in educating local and foreign travelers about altitude illnesses, train medical students, paramedics and young doctors about mountain medicine and rescue operations, run the rescue posts in the Himalayas, coordinate with stakeholders to create safer mountains and promote the mountain medicine in Nepal.

He works as an emergency physician at Western Regional Hospital, Pokhara Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS) under Ministry of Health and Population and is the vice president of International Society for Mountain Medicine for 2021-2025, secretary of Mountain Medicine Society of Nepal, member of Himalayan Rescue Association and member of International society of Travel Medicine, and editor for the Journal of Travel medicine since 2022.

Read more aboute Dr. Banyia here.

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