Karnali provincial hospital in crisis due to lack of budgetThe delay in budget release from the Ministry of Social Development in Karnali has put the hospital in a financial fix.
Karnali provincial hospital is yet to receive the funds meant for Covid-19 control and prevention action plan from the Ministry of Social Development in Karnali Province. The delay in releasing the necessary funds has hampered the hospital’s services, according to doctors.
The hospital has closed its Covid-19 isolation section due to a lack of funds to manage it. Dr Dambar Khadka, director of the hospital, said the hospital has been unable to clear the food bills of the hospital staff deployed on the frontline. The hospital also has yet to pay the bills for oxygen and other medical equipment used during the treatment of Covid-19 patients in the last seven months.
“The hospital has yet to clear Rs7 million for food, Rs2.5 million for oxygen, and
Rs1.9 million for PPE sets. The hotel has stopped providing meals to the doctors and other hospital staff members. The hospital has also not paid for the 100 beds and the two ventilators that were bought during the initial phase of the pandemic,” said Khadka.
“The problem will be solved only after the Ministry of Social Development releases the funds.”
In the last quarter of the last fiscal year, the ministry had allocated a budget of Rs305.9 million for Covid-19 Action Plan. The provincial hospital received Rs105.7 million, according to the annual report of the provincial government.
The government has announced a budget of Rs1.5 billion for Covid-19 centric programme this fiscal year. As per the plan, 200 isolation beds, 40 ICU beds and 20 ventilators were to be set up in the provincial hospital. Likewise, 50 isolation beds, 10 ICU beds and five ventilators were planned for each district hospital.
Officials at the provincial hospital say owing to the lack of funds, the hospital is struggling to even pay the health workers, let alone clear the payment of medical equipment.
Soon after its formation in 2018, the Karnali government had prioritised a specialist service expansion programme considering the shortage of health workers and other employees in the health institutions in the province.
As many as 58 employees, including two doctors, were appointed in the provincial hospital on contract basis. But they have not been getting their salary. The concerned employees have warned of halting the health services if their outstanding salary is not paid by March 13.
Khadka said that the hospital had asked the government to release Rs20 million to pay the employees for the current fiscal year. But the government, according to him, has issued only Rs5 million so far.
“We released the staff salary up to Paush (mid-January). The hospital does not have the wherewithal to pay them now,” said Khadka.
The provincial hospital has 325 posts and 86 of them are permanent positions. The facility currently has 268 staff members.
Khadka said the health services in the hospital would come to a halt without the doctors and other employees appointed on contract basis.
Social Development Minister Dal Rawal also said that he had already instructed the secretary at the ministry to proceed with the necessary process to release the funds to the provincial hospital.
Loknath Paudel, the secretary at the ministry, however, claimed that the provincial government had already released the funds.
“The funds have already been released. I am currently in Kathmandu right now. If there is a problem, I will take the initiative to solve the issue after I return,” Paudel said over the phone.