Bira Gadal, Republica Daily, 9 Oct 2017
BAITADI: Over a dozen of patients reach Melauli health post everyday for check up. At the health post, they are not only supposed to get free treatment but also free medicine. However, neither they ask for it, nor do the officials offer it as the health post lacks medicine. The hospital has been operating for a long time without even common drugs.
“People who come to the health post on a regular basis simply do not ask for it. They know it’s not available,” said a staff at the hospital requesting anonymity. “New comers ask for medicines and some even argue. But what could we do? Some people vent out their anger against us as if we are hiding medicine and not giving them,” he added.
According to the official, the situation is so pathetic that the health post’s store does not even have paracetamol. It is very difficult to handle the situation when women with sick children visit the hospital, he said.
“Medicine required for treating diarrhea and dysentery, asthma, stomach ache, common fever, at least are supposed to be in stock at the health post. It feels very bad when we have to say sorry to mothers who come along with their sick children in hope of getting medicine,” he said.
He added that many elderly people who used to receive medicine of asthma from the health post have been deprived of it for a long time. “Asthma patients should take medicine regularly else it does not work. But since we don’t have medicines here, elderly people who were receiving it from here, have been deprived of it. This has been taking toll on their health,” he added.
It is not that only Melauli Health Post has been in a sorry state. Almost all the health posts and health institutions in the district have the same situation, says Binod Kunwar, health coordinator of Purchodi Municipality.
“Hospitals and health posts have faced such problems even in the past. Lack of medicines in health posts or hospitals has drawn headlines many times. But this time it is severe then ever,” he said. “Formation of the local bodies and the confusion around their working procedure is a major reason for the scarcity,” he added.
Kunwar said that his municipality is in the process of purchasing medicines but added the procurement will last only for four months.
“The budget we have received from the government for purchasing medicine is not sufficient. The medicine being purchased is expected to last for four months,” Kunwar said.
At Bishalpur Health Post also there is dearth of medicine supply. According to the chief of the health post, Karan Singh Thagunna, the health post’s management has recently procured a little stock with its own resources.
“We have been planning to avert shortage of medicine at the health post and had therefore planned to use internal resources to procure some. Though we have placed orders, it is not going to last for long,” Thagunna said adding that as the drugs are yet to reach there and that the health post is presently facing acute shortage.
According to Thagunna, scarcity of medicine might grow in the time to come as health posts and institutions are likely to get lesser budget under the new local body set up. He stated that the budget allocated by municipality will not be sufficient. “The local bodies won’t be able to provide the budget required for purchasing drugs to health institutions. So, the problem of drug shortage is going to be even serious in the days ahead,” he remarked while expressing hope that local leaders will resolve the situation.
Health coordinator of Sigas Rural Municipality, Mahesh Bhatta also expressed similar concerns and stressed on the need to review allocation of budget to health institutions. He stated that the central and local government must prioritize health sector and do the needful to ensure basic health service to people. “If required budget is not allocated for purchasing medicines, it will directly affect people’s health. So, this matter must be taken very seriously,” he said. Health posts in Sigas Rural Municipality have been operating without essential drugs since a couple weeks.
Similarly, Tarkaraj Bhatta, health coordinator at the Sunarya Rural Municipality informed that in addition to lack of drugs, lack of staffs at health and other coordinating institutions have also affected health services. “We have a number of problems. Medicine crunch is just one of them,” he said.
The government has announced to provide 36 types of most common medicines for free. Health coordinators at the local level lament that the medicine purchasing mechanism is very lethargic and that the budget is not sufficient. According to Madan Singh Mahara, health coordinator at the Patan Municipality, the budget provided to the local level bodies for purchasing medicine is very less than required. “The budget allocated for purchasing medicine is very less. This has left us all in a dilemma,” he said.