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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Understanding effects of armed conflict on health outcomes: the case of Nepal

Bhimsen Devkota12* and Edwin R van Teijlingen3

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Population Health, School of Medicine and Dentistry, AB 25, 2ZD, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

2 Associate Professor, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

3 School of Health & Social Care, Bournemouth University, Dorset BH1 3LT, Bournemouth, UK & Visiting Professor, Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences, Nepal

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Conflict and Health 2010, 4:20  doi:10.1186/1752-1505-4-20

Published: 1 December 2010

Abstract

Objective

There is abundance of literature on adverse effects of conflict on the health of the population. In contrast to this, sporadic data in Nepal claim improvements in most of the health indicators during the decade-long armed conflict (1996-2006). However, systematic information to support or reject this claim is scant. This study reviews Nepal's key health indicators before and after the violent conflict and explores the possible factors facilitating the progress.

Methods

A secondary analysis has been conducted of two demographic health surveys-Nepal Family Health Survey (NFHS) 1996 and Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2006; the latter was supplemented by a study carried out by the Nepal Health Research Council in 2006.

Results

The data show Nepal has made progress in 16 out of 19 health indicators which are part of the Millennium Development Goals whilst three indicators have remained static. Our analysis suggests a number of conflict and non-conflict factors which may have led to this success.

Conclusion

The lessons learnt from Nepal could be replicable elsewhere in conflict and post-conflict environments. A nationwide large-scale empirical study is needed to further assess the determinants of Nepal's success in the health sector at a time the country experienced a decade of armed conflict.