With federal set-up in place, Karnali Provincial Hospital changes for the betterIn the last fiscal year alone, the provincial government has allocated Rs400 million to upgrade the hospital.
A few months ago, Saraswati Rana, a local of Dailekh, went to the Nepalgunj-based Bheri Zonal Hospital for her son’s treatment. After 15 days in the hospital, doctors suggested Rana that she should take her son to a bigger hospital, as they could not do much to improve his condition.
Rana then took her son to the Karnali Provincial Hospital in Kalagaun, Surkhet, where she saw a remarkable improvement in her son’s health condition. “I took my son to Nepalgunj for treatment without much hope. Because from what I remembered, from past experience, the hospital was lacking in many respects. But my recent visit showed me otherwise,” she said.
The service the hospital now provides has seen an upgrade putting the fears of service seekers like Rana at bay. “I was skeptical to go to the hospital but I’m now glad about my decision. If I had gone there earlier, I would have saved around Rs 40,000 I spent on my son’s treatment in Nepalgunj,” she says.
In the last four years, the hospital has seen major improvements in terms of the service it provides to the well-equipped medical facilities it supports with increased manpower, infrastructure and equipment. The changes have been brought on after the country switched to a federal setup, giving the provincial government more scope to exercise authority in the hospital. The regional hospital was upgraded to a provincial hospital a year ago.
For 14 years before that though, the then Surkhet District Hospital was a regional hospital that functioned with only three doctors. The hospital faced a shortage of doctors for almost a decade. “Auxiliary health workers and health assistants used to conduct the check-up of patients in the past. We had to go Nepalgunj or Kathmandu or other cities to receive treatment, as the health workers could not identify diseases properly,” said Udaya Shahi, a local of Kalikot, adding that they now can find specialists and receive quality treatment at the Karnali Provincial Hospital.
The hospital was also functioned only as a reference point to a higher centre, as it was unable to provide health services in case of serious illnesses. Today, things are different, with patient flow surging in the hospital as of late. Every day, the hospital receives around 600 patients. The hospital data showed that around 300 patients (critical cases) are being referred to the hospital from other districts on a daily basis.
In the last fiscal year alone, the provincial government has allocated Rs400 million to upgrade the hospital. “Out of Rs400 million, Rs200 million has been used to purchase modern equipment,” said Khadka, adding that they have started dialysis, ICU and CT scan services among others after managing infrastructures.
Dr Dambar Khadka, medical superintendent of the hospital, said that the hospital has been able to provide effective health services after the hospital filled the necessary quota for skilled human resources and brought new technical equipment.
Currently, there are 16 medical specialists and 22 MBBS doctors in the hospital. According to Khadka, construction of a 150-bed hospital with 125 posts of health workers including 77 posts of doctors has been proposed. The hospital currently has 115 beds, said Khadka.
The provincial government has also decided to upgrade the hospital and run it as Karnali Medical College. “The federal government has already sent a project letter to the provincial government to operate the college,” said Dal Rawal, Minister for Social Development.