Prakash also contributed to academic mountain medicine by actively helping many young Nepali and Western doctors to cut their professional teeth on altitude medicine with proper supervision by senior experienced doctors on these high-altitude camps. He even encouraged medical research to find out more about the vulnerability of Nepal’s pilgrim population.
As the CEO of the HRA, he helped high altitude doctors to highlight the plight of the pilgrims. He even actively helped out with determining that lower dose of Diamox (125 mg twice a day) with fewer side effects was good enough for the prevention of acute mountain sickness, unlike what a British Medical Journal’s meta-analysis had earlier reported.
Although us doctors at the HRA planned and conducted this high altitude research, none of it would have been possible in Nepal’s bureaucratic setup without his strong backing and gentle encouragement.
The bureaucracy also involved obtaining official approvals from the Ministry of Health, Labour Ministry and Immigration Department in Kathmandu for volunteer HRA doctors for its aid posts in Manang (3,519m), Pheriche (4,300m) and Everest Base Camp (5,600m).
He first collected all the certificates from the volunteer doctors, had these vetted by us health professionals at the HRA and then started his rounds (with the generous and necessary help of other HRA officials) of the ministries and approval boards. His caring, friendly nature and diplomatic skills clearly came in handy as he navigated these corridors of power to seek approvals.
I have no idea where he obtained this relentless strength to do these rounds twice a year especially when officials in the ministries changed so frequently. But his immense sense of humour and positive attitude helped.
Prakash got a very modest salary at the HRA, it was almost a voluntary job. Yet, every day he dealt with Nepali trekking agents who easily earned many times what he was paid. He could easily have jumped ship for better pastures, but Prakash was so focused on his work that he did not let this financial disparity get in the way.