Provincial Health Directorate demands budget for free treatment of Covid-19 patientsHealth institutions across the province are running short of funds to continue their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Provincial Health Directorate of Sudurpaschim has demanded an additional budget from the provincial government to continue the free treatment of Covid-19 patients in government hospitals.
According to the directorate, health institutions across the province are running short of funds to continue their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. The directorate wrote to the Office of Chief Minister and Council of Ministers in October third week seeking additional budget. It estimates that health institutions need around Rs 3 billion to provide treatment to Covid-19 patients in nine districts of the province in the current fiscal year.
“Health institutions will only be able to provide free treatment to Covid-19 patients if the government releases more funds,” said Dr Hemraj Pandey, chief at Seti Provincial Hospital in Dhangadhi, Kailali.
“Hospitals have been managing the expenses of Covid-19 treatment in credit. We cannot run the hospital in such a manner. This hospital alone spends Rs 50 million in three months to provide free treatment to Covid-19 patients,” said Pandey.
The Provincial Hospital and Mahakali Hospital in Kanchanpur district are two major hospitals providing free treatment to Covid-19 patients in Sudurpaschim. Sixteen other hospitals have been also providing primary treatment to the infected.
The provincial government has directed all hospitals to provide free treatment to Covid-19 patients, stating that it would bear the expenses after the federal government on October 19 announced its plan to discontinue free test and treatment, except for the helpless and disabled people.
Based on the verbal direction of the provincial government, hospitals have been conducting free tests and providing free treatment to all Covid-19 patients. However, health institutions have warned that they would be unable to provide free treatment unless they received a budget soon.
According to the health directorate, the treatment cost of one Covid-19 patient can go as high as Rs 33,975 per day. The expenses include meals and snacks for the patient, hotel expenditure of the health workers deployed in Covid-19 treatment, ventilator and ICU expenditures of critically ill patients, health security equipment, PCR tests and risk allowance to the health workers. The directorate said the average expense of treating one Covid-19 patient in ICU adds up to Rs 7,000 and Rs 15,000 in a ventilator per day.
“We estimate that nearly Rs 3 billion is required for the management and treatment of all Covid-19 patients in the province until the end of the current fiscal year,” said Dr Gunaraj Awasthi, director at the provincial health directorate. “We sent a letter to the provincial government in October third week but the government has not responded to it.”
“Seti and Mahakali hospitals cannot provide treatment to all Covid-19 patients. The hospitals are running out of funds and resources,” said Awasthi. “There is no alternative but to set up Covid-19 hospitals with a capacity to hold 50 to 100 patients in every district. The government should prepare accordingly.”
According to the provincial Ministry of Social Development, around Rs 600 million has been spent on the management and treatment of Covid-19 patients in the province so far. The data available at the ministry shows that hospitals across the province have a total of 23 ICU beds, 17 ventilators and 310 isolation beds.
Social Development Minister Krishna Raj Subedi said the provincial government is mulling over the Provincial Health Directorate’s request.
“The provincial government has requested for a large sum of money. We will soon take the matter to the Cabinet and decide accordingly,” he said.