Ministry of Social Development in Sudurpaschim delays funds for Saipal eye campDelay in the release of total budget has led to non-payment of the expenses incurred in the management and treatment of patients during the eye camp.
Basanta Pratap Singh
Four months ago, a team of health workers reached Saipal Rural Municipality, a remote local unit in Bajhang district, to conduct a free eye camp for the local residents.
The District Hospital in Bajhang conducted the three-day camp at a total expenditure of Rs 5 million. Half of the total amount for the camp was promised as financial assistance by the Ministry of Social Development in Sudurpaschim. The hospital says the ministry has so far released only Rs 1.5 million out of the Rs 2.5 million promised.
The delay in the release of the total budget by the provincial government has led to non-payment of the expenses incurred in the management and treatment of patients during the eye camp. The hospital has made repeated attempts to reach out to the ministry for the release of the budget, says Dr Sandip Okheda, chief at the District Hospital in Bajhang.
“I visited the ministry four times with a letter. Even the chairman of the Hospital Development Committee had gone to the ministry to request for the release of the remaining budget but we still haven’t received the amount,” said Okheda.
The hospital has not been able to pay Simrik Air for 36 helicopter flights made to transport equipment, medical supplies, health workers and people’s representatives from Chainpur, the district headquarters of Bajhang, to Saipal.
According to Okheda, the hospital has already written a letter to the ministry seven times but to no avail. “We are also making regular phone calls but the ministry has not paid any heed,” he said, adding that those who had provided their services during the eye camp have started asking for payments. “They are making phone calls on a daily basis. This has put us in a very uncomfortable situation.”
Chief District Officer of Bajhang Kamalraj Bhandari, who coordinated the eye camp in Saipal, says he too has repeatedly requested the ministry to release the due payment to the hospital but he also has not received any response.
Meanwhile, Raghuram Bista, secretary at the Ministry of Social Development in Sudurpaschim Province, says the ministry promised more than it could deliver.
“The ministry does not have the budget. We organised a large project without managing funds for it,” said Bista. “But we are working towards solving the issue. It will take some time but the outstanding amount will be paid to the hospital.”
According to Krishna Subedi, minister of Social Development in Sudurpaschim Province, he has directed the secretary to release the amount soon.
“The payment will be done within a few days,” said Subedi.
A total of 643 individuals had received eye treatment, including cataract surgery, in the three-day camp while 891 had received various health services on their doorsteps.
A team from Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology had performed eye treatment in Saipal. Likewise, 40 health workers, including nine medical specialists from Seti Provincial Hospital, had provided various health services including lab tests in the camp.