Salyan hospital charging exorbitant feesLocal residents complain that the medical fees at the district hospital and private hospitals are the same.
Two weeks ago, Dal Bahadur Sunar, a resident of Simkharka in Sharada Municipality, took his wife Kamala to Salyan Hospital, the district hospital, after she complained of stomach pain.
Doctors at the hospital advised Kamala to get a video X-ray of her stomach. The couple paid Rs 500 for the service.
Another Nara Bahadur Chalaune, a resident of Chandekarenji in Siddhakumak Rural Municipality, also paid Rs 100 to get his blood sugar level tested at the hospital’s lab.
Local residents complain that the medical charges in Salyan’s private and government hospitals are the same. The district has four private hospitals and one government-run hospital.
“We expect government hospitals to be more affordable than private ones. But in Salyan, the district hospital and the private health institutions charge the same rate,” said Sunar. “Patients from impoverished households can’t afford to get treatment even in the district’s government-run hospital.”
Patients have to pay Rs 600 to get a video X-ray and Rs 350 for a normal X-ray and Electrocardiogram (ECG) at the district hospital. Likewise, the hospital charges Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 for applying plaster casts. The private hospitals in the district charge the same amount, says Sunar.
The district hospital provides 300 medical services, including surgical and other health care facilities.
“The medical fee at the district hospital is the same as other private hospitals. Medical treatment should come cheaper at a government hospital. But in Salyan, that’s not the case,” said Tanka Bahadur Roka, a resident of Ward No. 9 in Bangadkupinde Municipality.
Roka took his wife Jaya to the hospital last week for a regular pregnancy test. He said that the hospital charged him Rs 500 for an ultrasound and additional Rs 800 for other laboratory tests.
Local residents have since long been complaining that the health services in the district hospital are not affordable for the average families. Dhan Bahadur Kunwar, a resident of Sharada Municipality-11, said that the local residents prefer visiting private hospitals and clinics since the price is the same and services a lot better.
“Working class families in the district have been greatly affected, as the district hospital charges huge amounts of money on various pretexts,” said Kunwar.
Rikharam Pun, the focal person at the District Health Office, admits that impoverished people have been hit hardest by the high medical charges at the district hospital. According to him, only maternity services, family planning services, treatment of senior citizens and some medicines are free in the district hospital at present.
The government provides more than 70 different types of medicines for communicable and non-communicable diseases to all district hospitals. Patients get more than 60 types of essential medicines at primary healthcare centres and 35 types of drugs at health posts for free.
The district hospital, however, claims that it has been charging the patients on par with private hospitals so as to provide quality health services.
“We are taking money from the patients as per the decision of the hospital development committee. The money collected from the patients is spent on providing salaries to the doctors and other health workers appointed on a contract basis and to enhance the institutional capacity of the hospital,” said Bhimkanta Jaisi, chief at the hospital.
Jaisi said discussions are underway to slash the medical charges at the hospital.
“The meeting of the hospital development committee will soon decide into the matter. We are considering lowering the charges by half,” he added.