Four provincial governments to continue free Covid-19 tests and treatmentHealth facilities run by the federal government witness a sharp drop in number of people coming in for tests as they start charging money.
Four provincial governments have said that they would continue with free Covid-19 testing and treatment days after the federal government announced to charge money for testing and treatment.
Lumbini, Bagmati, Gandaki, and Sudurpaschim provincial governments have said they will continue the free treatment and tests through health facilities that fall under the jurisdiction of their respective provinces.
Meanwhile, health facilities run by the federal government have started to charge for tests and treatment.The number of people visiting these facilities for tests has gone down as a result.
Lumbini Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel on Monday informed the public through social media that treatment and testing will be free of cost in four Covid-19 hospitals in Butwal, Bhairawaha, Dang and Banke.
Swab samples are being collected and tested from 10 different locations while local governments are also collecting swab samples from their health facilities.
“The number of individuals providing swab samples for Covid-19 tests has not decreased,” said Dr Rajendra Giri, chief at the Provincial Public Health Laboratory in Bhairahawa,.
When the federal government on Sunday announced its plans to discontinue free test and treatment, barring certain groups including helpless and disabled people, 2,338 swab samples were collected in the province.
The number fell to 874 on Monday but it picked up again on Tuesday, with 1,642 swab samples collected for testing , according to the data at the Ministry of Social Development.
Dr Rajendra Khanal, the medical superintendent of Lumbini Provincial Hospital, said the federal government’s decision has had no impact on test numbers at provincial hospitals.
“Our data show that the rate of infection is still increasing so testing is important. The provincial government’s decision to make testing and treatment free of cost is a welcome move,” he said.
Meanwhile, at Bharatpur Hospital in Chitwan, which operates under the federal government, the number of people visiting for tests has gone down since Sunday. As per the decision from the central government, the hospital has started charging Rs 2,000 for a Covid-19 test.
“The hospital had collected 154 swab samples on Sunday. The number dropped to 95 on Monday,” said Liladhar Paudel, information officer at the hospital.
Bagmati provincial government has also decided to continue with free Covid-19 testing and treatment from eight hospitals.
“Free treatment is available at Hetauda Hospital in Makwanpur, the district hospitals in Sindhuli, Ramechhap, Rasuwa, Bhaktapur, Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot, their isolation wards and 15 other isolation facilities in various locations. The treatment will continue throughout Dashain holidays,” said Yubaraj Dulal, minister for social development.
Dulal added that Hetauda Hospital and Dhulikhel Hospital are collecting swab samples for testing without any charge.
In Gandaki Province, the number of individuals providing swab samples has decreased at Pokhara Academy of Health Science, which is under the federal government.
“The number of people coming for tests has decreased after the federal government decided to charge money for testing and treatment,” said Dr Arjun Acharya, director at the hospital run by the academy.
The hospital had collected 400 swab samples on Sunday. But in the last three days, the number of swab sample collections has been averaging between 60 and 70 per day.
“Only those people with symptoms associated with Covid-19 are getting tested now,” said Acharya.
Health facilities that are run by the provincial government are still providing free Covid-19 tests and treatment though.
“The government of Gandaki Province is responsible towards its citizens. Free testing and treatment will continue from 38 places in the province,” said Gandaki Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung.
Gandaki Provincial Health Directorate has been conducting free tests of those people identified through contact tracing as well.
“Around 600 swabs are being collected on a daily basis,” said Nawaraj Sharma, coordinator of Provincial Health Emergency Centre.
In Sudurpaschim Province, free Covid-19 tests and treatment are available at all hospitals run by the provincial government.
“We are conducting free tests and treatment through all hospitals operated by the provincial government,” said Dr Gunaraj Awasthi, director at Sudurpaschim Health Directorate.
Seti Provincial Hospital in Dhangadhi and Dadeldhura Hospital are charging Rs 2,000 for tests from only those people who need their test results immediately.
“So far, all treatment costs of Covid-19 patients are being taken care of by the provincial government. We are only charging money for tests of those who are in need of immediate results,” said Dr Hemraj Pandey, the medical superintendent of Seti Provincial Hospital.