Health centres in Likhu Tamakoshi Rural Municipality in Ramechhap suffer for lack of essential medicinesThe rural municipality has not passed the current fiscal year’s budget because of a dispute between its chair and vice-chair.
A dispute between the chairman and the vice-chair of Likhu Tamakoshi Rural Municipality in Ramechhap has stretched over six months. The effect of this disagreement between the two is most visible in the local body’s health posts, say service seekers.
“The state provides us with free health care and medicines, but no help was forthcoming at the local health post,” Krishna Bahadur Tamang, who visited the local health post multiple times in the last three months, told the Post. “I then went to Manthali, the district headquarters, for my treatment because the local health post was out of medicines.”
The rural municipality has not passed this fiscal year’s budget, as it has not conducted any meetings since the dispute. In the absence of budget to important sectors like health, people like Tamang are compelled to visit health centres outside the municipality to receive services.
“The dispute between the local representatives has now taken a nasty turn. In the process, service seekers like us have to suffer,” said Tamang.
A dispute over budget allocation to a village for electrification six months ago had created a rift between the Chairman Govinda Bahadur Khadka and Vice-chairperson Dipshikha Dahal. Khadka had filed a case against Dahal and Ward No. 7 Chairman Subash Bohara in the district court six months ago accusing them of “asking for money and threatening to hurt his family” if the demand for the electrification project’s budget was not fulfilled.
“I received a call some six months ago, after my altercation with Dahal, and the caller demanded Rs20 million. I then filed a case against the two people I suspect of being behind that call,” said Khadka.
Both Dahal and Bohara have denied their involvement in the alleged phone call.
There are nine health posts in the seven wards of the rural municipality, and almost all of them have run out of essential medicines with no budget allocated for a fresh inventory.
Out of the nine health posts, Khimti, Nagdaha and Bijulikot run birthing centres but they are now on the verge of closure for lack of essential medicines.
“We may have to shut down the birthing centres soon,” said Shashikala Sunuwar, the head of the health department of the rural municipality. “We somehow managed to operate the centres for the last six months but we have now run out of essential medicines. This may put a mother and child in grave danger and we can’t take that risk.”
The gridlock in the official work of the rural municipality has also affected other health-related programmes, such as running awareness campaigns, training of health workers and conducting medical conferences.
“My office will take the initiative to inform the federal and provincial government of the state of affairs at the local unit,” said Bidhya Khanal, the head of the Health Office under the provincial government in the district.
Despite locals frequenting the municipality office with their complaints, the office has not taken any initiative to address the issue yet.
“There has been no discussion on this matter,” said Lila Bahadur Basnet, a member of the executive committee of the rural municipality, who is also the Ward No. 4 chair. “Most of the municipality works have come to a standstill. Some employees in the municipal office have not received their salary since last Dashain, while there are some who haven’t been paid for the past seven months.”
Health workers and those assigned to government offices in Likhu are also having a difficult time performing their duties, said health department head Sunuwar, who was transferred to Likhu a few months ago under the employee integration programme.
“I am thinking of quitting my job. It’s getting difficult by the day to continue working under the current circumstances,” she said.