Health Ministry seeks Cabinet approval to hire over 5,000 health workersOfficials say staff must be hired immediately to ensure services to patients.
The Ministry of Health and Population has sent a proposal to the Cabinet, seeking permission to hire over 5,000 health workers at once on a contract basis.
According to officials, health care facilities—health posts, primary health care centers, district hospitals, regional hospitals and central level hospital—are facing an acute crisis of health workers to provide services to the patients.
Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, spokesperson for the Health Ministry, confirmed that the ministry has sent a proposal to the Cabinet for hiring at least 5,000 health workers. “Services will be disrupted in various health facilities if the Health Ministry is not given permission to hire health workers at the earliest,” Shrestha told the Post.
Of the 31,591 health workers employed by the government, around 27,400 are serving at various health facilities across the country. According to Shrestha, posts of health workers including doctors, nurses, health assistants, auxiliary nurse midwives and lab technicians have been lying vacant due to various reasons.
“New posts of health workers have not been created for the last 26 years and thousands of existing posts have not been filled,” said Shrestha.
Due to a lack of manpower, several medical services—emergency care and cesarean delivery services, among others—have been affected in various health care facilities throughout the country.
Bir Hosptial, the country’s central hospital, lacks nurses to serve in the emergency ward during the night, officials said. Around 2,000 patients from across the country reach Bir Hospital every day, hoping to get quality care at affordable prices.
“We do not have nurses to serve in the emergency ward during the night,” Dr Kedar Prasad Century, director at the hospital, told the Post. “We have asked the Health Ministry to allow us to hire around 400 health workers immediately.”
The hospital has been unable to run a new advanced building constructed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency due to staff crunch. The hospital administration said it also lacked consultant doctors and other technical manpower.
Likewise, Kanti Children Hospital, which is the national referral center for the treatment of children, has shut down several beds of intensive care unit due to a shortage of staff, including doctors and nurses.
The ongoing employee adjustment process has also severely affected the health care services in various health facilities across the country.
Bhojpur District Hospital recently decided to halt the cesarean delivery services for an indefinite period following the transfer of its anesthetic assistant.
Rajendra Prasad Raut, spokesperson for the hospital, told the Post recently that the hospital was compelled to halt the services, as none of the concerned agencies—provincial government and the Ministry of Health— showed concern about the plights of the patients visiting the hospital.
Pregnant women in the area have been compelled to travel up to nine hours to reach Dharan or Biratnagar for cesarean delivery service.
Officials say health facilities across the country were already reeling from an acute shortage of human resources and that the employment adjustment process has added to the problem.
“We cannot halt the adjustment process,” said Shrestha, the spokesperson for the Health Ministry. “Those who have to be deputed at several facilities after the adjustment process also have not been released at once to ensure that health services are not affected. But we need more health workers at the earliest.”