KATHMANDU, Dec 13: The government and private hospitals have agreed to provide 10 percent of beds free of cost to the poor and helpless people from December 16. Nursing homes, clinics, community hospitals, non-government hospitals and private medical colleges will provide this facility to the needy.
Organizing a press conference at the Ministry of Health on Monday, Health Minister Gagan Thapa announced that the needy, including the poor and helpless, would be provided free treatment at private hospitals. “Ten percent of beds and treatment facilities at private hospitals will be allocated for the poor, helpless, homeless, elderly, single women and disabled and will be free of cost, from December 16,” Thapa claimed.
According to the Association of Private Health Institutions of Nepal (APHIN), there are 154 private hospitals, including private medical colleges, across the country, with a total of 7,394 beds. The government has already implemented a provision om free treatment at state-owned health centers and hospitals. However, the quotas for the needy at public hospitals have been misused by persons close to political leaderr and bureaucrats and by the business community.
The Good Governance Act has provisioned that 10 percent of hospital facilities be set aside for the treatment of the poor and needy free of cost.
Minister Thapa said that the government would take necessary action to implement the provisions of the law even if this means amending the rules and stricter monitoring. “At the present time, the private health institutions have shown commitment to implementing the rules,” he added.
According to him, physicians' fees, laboratory fees, bed charges, nursing and hospital diagnostic fees and oxygen costs will be provided free of cost at private hospitals.
“However, sophisticated surgery in operation theatres and medicines will not be free,” said Minister Thapa. “We are also holding discussions with the private sector regarding the facilities to be provided in operation theatres.”
Village development committees, municipalities, district development committees, district administration offices, district health service offices, MoH and Bir Hospital are the bodies that will recommend patients as poor, helpless and needy. The patients will fill up the forms at the hospitals. Private hospitals should tag 10 percent of their beds as 'free bed' and list the names of the free service receipients on their notice boards.
“We will monitor the private hospitals for effective implementation of the rules,” said Thapa.
Hom Raj Dahal, general secretary of APHIN, the umbrella organization of private hospitals, said they have also issued a notice to private hospitals to provide certain services to the needy free of cost from December 16. However, he added, “Physicians services, beds, nursing charges and available pathology services at private hospitals will be free, and if the beds are vacant 10 percent will be provided to the needy free of cost." Complex surgeries and cases of chronic disease will be referred to the nearest government hospitals, he also said.
60 pc Valley pharmacies, clinics illegal
About 60 percent of the pharmacies and clinics in Kathmandu Valley are operating illegally, unregistered or have not renewed their registration, according to the Ministry of Health.
There are some 1,600 pharmacies and clinics in the Valley. “These illegal firms should update their registration by January 11.
Otherwise, they will be shut down,” said Minister Thapa. Some three dozens clinics and pharmacies were shut down following monitoring carried out under the leadership of Thapa.