June 23, 2018 04:15 AM NPT
By: DB BUDHA
Children in Jumla participate in a program in this file photo. (Right) A health post in Jumla. Photo: Republica Files
JUMLA, June 23: There isn’t a single health post in any of the 30 wards of Jumla district. This district with a total of 60 wards has seven rural municipalities and one municipality. Though the public has lamented the extremely sorry state of health facilities, authorities do not promise a sign of change anytime soon.
“There is no health post in our ward. We have to walk miles for health service,” said an elderly person, Dambar Budha, from Paratasi Rural Municipality - 7.
“In this old age, walking for hours is not possible. We are left to die with disease,” he added in a frustrated tone.
Though the state restructuring was expected to bring happiness to the people, the reality is quite opposite, according to Budha.
Health facilities were not accessible even before. However, ‘the situation should not have been the same over time’.
“They hurriedly announced all villages as towns. New terms like rural municipality and municipality came in use. There isn’t any VDC now but only wards,” said Budha. “But there are no facilities in the wards either,” he said sarcastically.
Budha is an asthma patient. He has been to ‘cities’ several times, for treatment.
That has always been very costly in too many ways. Doctors told him to seek service in his own village.
“Sometimes, it’s emergency. But in our ward, there is no health post. We don’t have even ward office here,” he reported.
Untimely death of patients is quite common in Jumla as they often get no health service or get it too late. Even during emergencies, they reach local health centers too late, and their arrival to referral centers is equally delayed.
“New-born and mothers often die. Old people like us die without due to lack of treatment. When injured, we don’t get to see doctors,” lamented Budha.
Due to the lack of roads and hospitals, people have to be airlifted which adds additional financial burden to the already poor locals. Budha stated that poor people cannot imagine of spending millions of rupees for health care.
“It is only the rich ones who are taken to Kathmandu, Pokhara or India. We have no access even to paracetamol. Even fever can claim our life,” he said.
There are only 30 health centers in the district and not all of them are operating smoothly. In Chandannath Municipality, there are three health centers in a single ward. This seems quite disproportionate to the locals.
“At some places, there is not even one health post even in a large area. At the municipality, there are three health centers in a single ward. What we want is easy access to health care for one and all,” Budha said. “They had said this would happen after the election. The local government is there, but we don’t have doctors and medicines yet,” he added.
Karnali Academy of Health Sciences located at Khalanga Bazar, Jumla is a refuge for many. But, this facility also does not come easy, locals say. In one hand, they have to travel for days to come to the center. On the other hand, the service is not absolutely free. When cases are complex, the hospital refers them elsewhere.
“We poor people do not have any way out. Nobody is there to listen to us,” Budha said. “Health is a very basic thing. But we do not know how long should we wait to live with that comfort,” he added.
According to chairperson of his ward, Lal Bahadur Budha, the sorry heath state of Jumla and the entire western region is known to all. “Yet, the government is not duly serious about it,” he says.
“We are ward representative. We don’t have much power. However we are trying to draw the attention of the higher ups,” said Lal Bahadur. “There are plans to extend health facilities so far,” he added.
According to him, the government has planned to open 15-bed hospital in all local bodies. Jumla should be in priority list for this, he said.
“Our people have not been able to feel any change. Whether the country has gone republic or federal, they are simply not much aware. To make them feel the transformation, there has to be similar set up,” he stated. He further added that the locals want hospital in each ward.
Though the government has said that there will be hospital in all local bodies, people still lack a proper hospital in every ward, said Lal Bahadur.