Mugu District Hospital without specialist doctors for past four monthsThe hospital has been referring patients for all surgical procedures to health institutions outside the district.
The District Hospital in Mugu, a remote district of Karnali Province, has stopped all surgical procedures, except caesarean section, for the past four months for a lack of specialist doctors.
The hospital has been referring patients for all surgical procedures to health institutions outside the district. Patients have to visit Karnali Institute of Health Sciences in Jumla, Karnali Provincial Hospital in Surkhet or Bheri Hospital in Nepalgunj even for minor surgeries and specialist services since the hospital in Mugu does not have any specialist doctors.
Mugu residents have been put under further financial strain as they have to take a one-to-two-day road journey to reach Jumla, Surkhet and Nepalgunj for treatment.
“My mother complained of a severe stomach ache two months ago. I took her to the district hospital but there was no specialist doctor. So I had to take her to Nepalgunj to get her examined. I spent a huge amount of money for her treatment,” said Birgan Shahi, a resident of Soru Rural Municipality-4 in Mugu.
The district hospital in Mugu has two posts of specialist doctors and both the posts have remained vacant for the past four months. The hospital has been without a specialist doctor since the assigned doctor took a home leave in September and did not return.
According to Nahakul Shahi, an MBBS doctor at the district hospital, surgical services have been hugely affected in the health institution as both the posts of specialist doctor are vacant.
“In the absence of specialist doctors, eighth-level medical officers have been conducting caesarean sections to save the lives of pregnant women. Specialist doctors refuse to be posted in Mugu due to its geographical remoteness,” said Shahi.
The district hospital currently has six MBBS doctors.
According to the District Health Office in Mugu, it has repeatedly informed the relevant authorities about the absence of specialist doctors at the district hospital but to no avail.
“We urged the federal and provincial governments to send specialist doctors to the district hospital but they haven’t addressed the problem,” said Umesh Gautam, the chief at the District Health Office.
Besides health services, other services at the district hospital have also been affected as the hospital management committee is without office bearers and members for the past one year. The hospital’s administration section has been hit the hardest by the staff shortage.
“The hospital has been unable to make any financial decisions as the management committee is without its chairperson and other members. All the works that are to be done by mobilising internal resources of the hospital are halted,” said Gautam, adding that the hospital has been unable to release salaries to the health workers appointed on a contract basis.
The 15-bed district hospital was established in Mugu 15 years ago. The only hospital of the district was brought under the Karnali provincial government after the country adopted a federal ruling system in 2017.
“The provincial government should hire specialist doctors and appoint officials to the hospital management committee. We have informed the relevant authorities about the problems but they haven’t responded,” said Gautam.
The district hospital last year had purchased an oxygen plant at Rs 4 million provided by the Karnali provincial government but the plant is yet to be installed.
“The plant is gathering dust at a time when it's needed the most for Covid-19 patients,” Gautam said.