Baglung-based Dhaulagiri Hospital still lacks a PCR machineMinistry of Health and Population yet to release budget for a PCR machine even after almost three months of its decision.
On June 26, the Ministry of Health and Population had decided to place a PCR machine in 10 government hospitals, including Baglung-based Dhaulagiri Hospital. Three months into the decision, the hospital is yet to be equipped with a PCR machine.
According to the hospital administration, the ministry has not released the budget for the machine and the hospital is yet to receive the work order. The representatives of the hospital management committee said they have repeatedly asked the ministry and the concerned stakeholders to implement the decision, but neither the ministry nor other offices have paid attention to their request.
On August 18, a meeting of the COVID-19 Control and Treatment Fund also decided to release a Rs 10 million budget for the hospital to purchase the machine. But the hospital has yet to receive the budget from the ministry to purchase the machine.
Chief District Officer Suresh Neupane, who is also the chairman of the District Covid-19 Crisis Management Committee, had forwarded the letter of the fund to the hospital administration.
“We received the letter but we are yet to receive the budget and work order to purchase the machine. The hospital administration has been talking with the local administration and the ministry to release the budget soon,” said Dr. Shailendra Pokharel, the medical superintendent at the hospital.
However, KB Rana Magar, chairman of the Hospital Management Committee, said the committee has been forwarding its request for the budget to the ministry but is yet to receive a response.
“How many times should the management committee frequent the ministry to get the budget and work order? The ministry is playing with us,” Magar said.
Dr Pokharel said the hospital is unable to invite a tender to purchase the machine due to a lack of work order.
“We are fully prepared to purchase the machine but the ministry has not sent us the work order or the budget. We haven’t even been able to initiate the procurement process,” Pokharel said.
Shalikram Sharma, a representative of the hospital management committee, said the hospital has already managed a room to install the PCR machine.
“The purchase of the machine has been delayed due to delay in budget release. The ministry has delayed the process,” Sharma said.
In the absence of a PCR machine, the hospital has been sending swab samples to the Pokhara-based provincial laboratory for Covid-19 testing.
“We are collecting around 100 to 300 swab samples on a daily basis. The entire process of testing and tracing would be expedited if we had our own machine to test samples,” said Dr. Pokharel.
However, Rana Magar said they cannot say exactly when they could start PCR testing from Dhaulagiri Hospital. As of Monday, one person died and 349 individuals tested positive for coronavirus in the district, according to the data of the District Health Office in Baglung.
Dhaulagiri Hospital had established three ICU beds in its ICU ward in April. But there are no skilled health workers to work in the ward.
“Currently, the ICU ward has become a general ward due to a lack of skilled health workers. We had demanded the provincial government to provide nine additional staff nurses and eight medical officers to run the ICU ward. But the government only permitted five nurses. This is why we are facing difficulties in running the ICU ward,” said Rana Magar, adding that the hospital management committee is even facing difficulties in providing salary to the health workers on time.
The hospital has a total position of 25 doctors and 30 nurses. But at present, there are only 15 doctors and 22 nurses working in the hospital.
By the end of the last fiscal year, the government had decided to upgrade the 50-bed Dhaulagiri Hospital to a sub-regional hospital.
“The hospital will become a 200-bed hospital after the upgrade and will need many health workers by then,” said Dr. Pokharel.