City lacks doctors to run its free drug programmeIn the warehouse of Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s urban health division, boxes of medicines that were to be distributed to the needy sit idle, gathering dust.
In the warehouse of Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s urban health division, boxes of medicines that were to be distributed to the needy sit idle, gathering dust.
The 85 different types of medicines that are stored at the godown were bought by the KMC to distribute to the needy for free through its urban health clinics. However, because these clinics do not have enough doctors to prescribe medicines, these medicines are being unused. As a result, the public has been forced to buy these medicines at private pharmacies at higher prices.
Of the 32 wards in the metropolis, the KMC is operating urban health clinics in 27 wards where the said medicines should be distributed for free to patients. “But we don’t have doctors to examine patients and prescribe medicines to them,” Mahendra Giri, a public health inspector at the metropolis’ health division, told the Post.
Of the 85 varieties of drugs, worth Rs 9.2 million, about two dozen are for non-communicable diseases—diabetic, hypertension, mental health, heart, asthma, cholesterol and others. According to Narendra Bajracharya, chief of the health division, the number of people suffering from such non-communicable diseases is significant in the metropolis.“Doctors after going through lab reports prescribe medicines for these diseases to patients,” said Giri. “But we neither have doctors nor laboratories. And the medicines are gathering dust.” Some of the medicines are also nearing their expiry dates, according to him.
“We bought those medicines hoping that we could hire medical doctors on contract basis, but we could not do so following changes in the government’s rule on hiring staff,” Bajracharya said.
The staff hiring process failed to take off because the government started working on the civil servant adjustment process to depute staff at all tiers of the government. Bajracharya said the process to hire doctors for the metropolis-run health promotion centres cannot start until the government completes the civil service adjustment process.
Bajracharya said that the metropolis had also planned to run 11 health promotion centres in the metropolitan city and appoint doctors there. The idea behind starting the health promotion centres was to provide extensive health care services to the metropolis dwellers, especially those who cannot afford to go to expensive health facilities and buy costly medicines. But the plan seems to have gone awry, as the target group currently does not seem to be benefiting.
Ratnaa Devi Thapa Magar, 50, lives in a squatter settlement on the northern bank the Bagmati River near Thapathali. She has not been keeping well for the last two years. “I had visited an urban health clinic run by the metropolis, but for the medicines, I had to produce doctor’s prescriptions, which I did not have,” she told
Similar is the case of Prem Tamang, who is a patient of a chronic asthma. He said he has to buy medicines worth Rs 1,600 a month, an amount way beyond his capacity to afford. “My daughter, who is already married, has been helping me buy the medicines,” he said.
The KMC-run urban health clinics are currently being handled by health assistants, auxiliary health assistant and auxiliary nurse midwives. Bajracharya said the 13 health assistants that serve at urban health clinics are distributing drugs to the needy when they come up with doctors’ prescriptions. But that does not meet the purpose of setting up urban health clinics. Rarely do people go to urban health clinics only to get medicines after getting checked up at other hospitals.
To start the 11 health promotion centres, the metropolis needs to hire at least 11 doctors who can then examine patients at the health promotion centres and prescribe medicines that the needy can get for free from the urban health clinics.