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Manmade earthquake: the hidden health effects of a blockade-induced fuel crisis in Nepal
  1. Shyam Sundar Budhathoki1,
  2. Hellen Gelband2
  1. 1School of Public Health & Community Medicine, B P Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal
  2. 2Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, Washington DC, USA
  1. Correspondence to Shyam Sundar Budhathoki; ss.budhathoki{at}

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  • Border blockades in landlocked countries severely affect the daily lives of the people.

  • The paper details the hidden effects of the recent political blockade in Nepal that led to a severe fuel crisis, dealing a blow to the health and well-being of a population still recovering from a major natural disaster.

  • Border blockades and fuel crises, particularly in landlocked countries, lead to humanitarian emergencies that deserve attention equal to the attention paid to natural disasters.

My friend's uncle in his 50s living in Hetauda, Nepal had severe left-sided chest pain while working one evening. His colleague took him on a motorbike—two-wheeler in local parlance—to a nearby hospital, arriving 45 min after the pain had started. The ECG and cardiac enzymes suggested an acute ST-elevated myocardial infarction. The hospital had no cardiologist or specialised services, and referred him to a hospital in the capital city, Kathmandu, 87 km away. However, no local ambulances were available for transporting the patient to Kathmandu. After frantically calling all contacts, a private ambulance from a city an hour away agreed to transport him on the condition that the patient supply 30 L of diesel. After an hour of searching, 25 L of diesel from the home of a local food retailer was arranged, at three times the regular price. Simultaneous with the search for fuel, the hospital staff was searching for a portable oxygen cylinder in the city to be sent with the ambulance, …

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