Hospitals agree to extend service from Dec 16: ThapaBeginning December 16, all hospitals except government health facilities will be providing ‘10 percent free beds’ to poor, elderly, single women and people with disabilities.
Beginning December 16, all hospitals except government health facilities will be providing ‘10 percent free beds’ to poor, elderly, single women and people with disabilities.
Free services include doctor’s consultancy, laboratory services, bed cost, nursing costs, all diagnostic facilities and oxygen. Under the free service scheme, the hospitals should compulsorily provide 10 percent of its total beds for free to the poor and vulnerable population and those admitted under the quota shall be eligible for the free services.
Health Minister Gagan Thapa said the ministry had issued a circular to all the private hospitals and that they agreed to provide the services.
“Each hospital must have a self-declaration form in which people will declare themselves poor before availing the free services. Once admitted, a sticker reading’free service to the poor’ should be plastered on the bed,” Minister Thapa told a press meet on Monday. “Also, the patient information board will compulsorily keep the details of the patients provided free treatment.”
This reporting mechanism, Minister Thapa said, will curb anomalies such as influential people misusing the services.
Apart from the self-declaration, the hospitals should provide 10 percent free services based on the recommendations from VDCs, DDCs, municipalities, district administration offices and also from Bir Hospital.
The services should be provided by all medical colleges, nursing homes, cooperative hospitals, hospitals run by NGOs, private and community hospitals. Despite Health Ministry’s instructions, the implementation of the free services remain a big challenge. First, many non-government health facilities are still operating without proper registration. The Health Ministry suspects as much as 60 percent of the total non-government facilities might be operating illegally.
Secondly, the non-compliance of ministry’s instruction. The MoH has been directing the hospitals to extend 10 percent free hospital services for the last four years, yet very few have complied with it. Proper identification of the poor and vulnerable is another big challenge facing this scheme.
Officials from the Association of Private Health Institution of Nepal (Aphin), an umbrella organisation of private hospitals, have said that they are committed to provide the 10 percent free services. In a letter sent to Minister Thapa on December 7 signed by its President Basanta Chaudhary, Aphin has said that they are committed to extend the free services.
“We still urge Health Ministry to first work on the identification of the poor. This will help us deliver the health services to the people who need it the most,” said Hom Raj Sharma Dahal, general secretary of Aphin. However, Aphin has not yet followed government’s directive to provide certain surgical care for free. Despite this, there has been an agreement that these poor persons who need the surgical care will be immediately referred to government specialty centre.