Health conclave panellists shed light on ways to build healthier societyHealth Minister Hridayesh Tripathi says suggestions from the country’s eminent health experts will help government develop better health policies in the future.
The one-day Nepal Health Conclave 2021, with the theme ‘Aarogyada: Living healthier together’, was held in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
The daylong event, a joint effort of Triktal Production and young health professionals from the US embassy Youth Council, Saptaha Aajiwan, resonated with this year’s World Health Day theme of “Building a Fairer, Healthier World”.
Minister for Health and Population Hridayesh Tripathi, who attended the inaugural session, said organising such an event after the country went through the coronavirus pandemic was ‘meaningful’.
“The decision that comes from the conclave will be helpful for the ministry to make policies in the days to come and the government will surely accept all the positive decisions,” Tripathi said.
The conclave offered four sessions on different topics—Health Literacy, Agenda for All; Covid-19 and Sustainable Development Goals, Deconstructing Health Policies and Role of Mainstream Media for a Healthier Nepal—and brought together the most eminent minds in the country’s health and other sectors.
Speaking before the session, US Ambassador to Nepal Randy W Berry said he was pleased to attend the meaningful event.
“Today's health conclave will help create better understanding among stakeholders about this important conversation,” he said.
He also informed that the US was spending over $32 million to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in Nepal.
In the first session of the conclave, panellists Dr Bhagawan Koirala, cardiac surgeon; Dr Rajendra Koju, dean of School Of Medicine Kathmandu University; Dr Aruna Upreti, public health specialist; and Dr Bidya Nath Koirala, head of the department of Central Department of Education at Tribhuvan University talked about the importance of indiginous knowledge to cure public health. The session was moderated by Bonita Sharma.
“The modern medicine should go along the indiginious knowledge, mobilising the local resources making them public understand at ground level, what kind of medicines our ancestors took,” said Dr Aruna Upreti.
Dr Koirala, meanwhile, emphasised on breaking the false information and delusion created by the internet.
In the second session, panellists discussed in depth the social and health fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The discussion also touched on the themes of clinical and local engagement, public health, interventions and policies.
“Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, all the health system and infrastructure was diverted for curing the disease, and it was a very stressful situation when our hospital had got the first case. To get a PCR report we had to send samples to Hong Kong,” said Koirala.
Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, a health coordinator at the Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre, Dr Kiran Regmi, a former Health Secretary, Dr Dilip Sharma, the director at Standards and Accreditation at Medical Education Commission, and Professor Dr Sharad Onta, country coordinator for the People's Health Movement, featured in the third panel discussion, Decentralising Health Policy. They discussed the government’s strategy to stem the current rise of Covid-19 cases, and the need to bring reforms in government’s health policies.
The panellists emphasised that the country’s health policies should be changed every five to ten years and it should be public centric .
“It’s time to question whether our health policy is going in the welfare model or market model?” questioned Onta.
Dr Dilip Sharma talked about the upcoming challenges in the country's tourism industry.
“Besides the infrastructure, the country also should focus on quality and effective health facilities to promote tourism,” said Sharma.
The last session of the conclave had a discourse on the role of the media in creating a healthier society.
Dr Jageshwor Gautam, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population; Rajendra Dahal, former chairman of Nepal Press Council; Ani Choing Drolma, a Buddhist nun and a social activist; and Sandip Chhetri, a comedian and TV presenter, shared their experiences of the pandemic and the impression it left in them.
Dahal, the former chair of council, said more than the mainstream media, other social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Tik-Tok were more responsible for disseminating false information during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Basically, mainstream media such as print and broadcast has its editor who does fact check, but in those social media there is no one to monitor,” said Dahal.