Frontline health workers in Karnali Province deprived of risk allowanceThe Health Ministry in April had announced 50 percent allowance for workers deployed to the frontline in the fight against Covid-19.
Jyotee Katuwal & Chandani Kathayat
After the government announced that health workers deployed in the treatment of Covid-19 patients would be given risk allowances, many health workers in Dailekh’s Dullu Hospital voluntarily took on jobs in the frontline hoping to get some extra money. But none of the health workers have received the government allowance yet.
“I feel uneasy, as my colleagues deployed in isolation and quarantine facilities have been deprived of the allowance. They are dejected now,” said Dr Pooja BC, chief at Dullu Hospital. According to her, the health workers have not received the risk allowance since their deployment in March.
BC said the local unit had assured them of providing risk allowances soon after the federal government released the budget for the same.
“We have not even received the encouragement allowance as announced by the provincial government. The health workers at the district hospital received the encouragement allowance but we have been deprived of both,” said BC. According to her, as many 35 health workers deployed in isolation wards and quarantine facilities have been deprived of the government-announced allowances.
Dullu Municipality had decided to provide Rs 3,000 daily allowance to doctors and Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 to other health workers as per their post for their deployment in isolation wards and quarantine facilities.
“The health workers have been pressuring me to provide them the allowance. When I inquired about it, the municipality said it does not have the budget,” said BC. “I asked the municipality to at least release last fiscal year’s allowances so that I could placate the disgruntled health workers. But the local unit refused even to release that amount.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Ghanshyam Bhandari said the municipality could not release the risk allowance to health workers, as it has not received the budget from the centre. He expressed his commitment to providing the allowances soon.
Not only in Dullu but doctors and health workers in Karnali Provincial Hospital in Surkhet are also deprived of the allowance. Health workers there complained that they have not received the corona special allowance for the past four months.
“We risked our lives for the treatment of Covid-19 patients but the government ignored us and our contributions,” said a ninth-level doctor at the provincial hospital, preferring anonymity.
The Health Ministry in April had announced a 50 percent allowance to doctors, health workers and sanitation workers deployed in the frontline in the fight against Covid-19.
So far, 105 frontline health workers have tested positive for the coronavirus in the district.
“We have no motivation to work due to a lack of allowances. Even our relatives do not want to be near us. It is unfair for frontline health workers to have to risk their lives without receiving any allowances,” said a health worker working at the provincial hospital.
Binod Basnet, information officer at the provincial hospital, however, said that a health worker who receives corona allowance from the centre does not receive the allowance provided by the provincial government and vice versa.
Brisha Bahadur Shahi, chief at the Health Services Division under the Ministry of Social Development, said, “We have asked the government to release the necessary budget to be provided as allowances to health workers.”
In January, the provincial Cabinet had decided to provide encouragement allowances to government employees in the province. According to the decision, eleventh-level specialist doctors are to receive 75 percent to 135 percent of their basic salary as allowance for working in Karnali.
Similarly, specialist doctors of ninth-and tenth-level are to receive allowances equivalent to 75 to 125 percent of their basic salary. For other health workers, the figure stands at 50 to 100 percent of their basic salary based on the geographical remoteness of the districts they are deployed in.
But health workers said they have not received the amount as decided by the provincial Cabinet.