Buddhist medicine in occupied Tibet
In 1949, China invaded Tibet without provocation; Tibet is still occupied, and the Dalai Lama's government is in exile in India. Kieren Bong spent his elective in a Buddhist monastery there
I was warmly received and presented with a hada (white silk scarf) on arriving at Lhasa's Gongkar airport. Two men helped me with my luggage, and soon we were on our way to the capital of this ancient Buddhist country. The 95 km journey from the airport to Lhasa gave us ample opportunity to get acquainted, and I saw some of the most spectacular landscapes on earth. On arriving in Lhasa, I felt lightheaded and overwhelmed by the intensity of the sun. Two days later, when I was well acclimatised, we left for the monastery.
In Tibet's largest and best preserved monastery, the hospital is a small but organised community run by 14 Tibetan monks who are doctors. Two are highly experienced, each with 36 years' experience in medical practice; two are junior doctors in the making; one is an ultrasonographer; one is a radiologist; four are pharmacists; and four