Single doctor running 50-bed Jajarkot District Hospital
March 18, 2018 12:10 PM NPT
By: Janak KC
Dr Amin Shah, the only medical officer available at the District Hospital Jajarkot, examining a patient at his office in this recent picture. Janak KC/Republica
JAJARKOT, March 18: Fifty-bed Jajarkot hospital, which receives scores of patients daily, is dependent on a single medical officer. Though the hospital is supposed to have eight specialist doctors and six medical officers, Dr Amin Shah is the only person who has been providing service in the hospital.
"I cannot explain the situation to you. In a district hospital, there are no staffs, no doctors and no specialists. There was recently a viral outbreak. Number of patients to visit the hospital had gone up manifold. I was the only doctor to look after them. I cannot say how hard it is to handle things. Everything is in a mess," Shah lamented.
Two years ago, swine flu had taken serious toll in Jajarkot. Seven people died. Eight years ago, 400 locals were affected by diarrhea. Considering these past events and present staffing problems at the hospital, locals are enraged.
"This is a hospital for the poor people. They come here for treatment from remote areas. However, as the hospital does not have doctors or medicines, most of them are deprived of their basic rights to proper healthcare," a civil society leader in Jajakot, Keshab Jung Shah said.
"The government does not care even if people are dying. Health service is everyone's right, but the extremely pathetic situation of the district level hospital reflects the government's apathy towards public health," he fumed.
Two months ago, southern part of the district was in severe grip of cold and cough. Six people died and hundreds had been seriously ill. Even at the time, Shah single-handedly took care of the patients.
“I was sick, my family members were sick, my neighbors were sick and there were no doctors in health posts, in hospital, anywhere. Look at the level of apathy of the government,” said Keshab Jang. He further stated that medical service is not accessible to residents of Jajarkot, even if they are willing to pay for it.
He questioned the recent upgrades to the hospital. Before being upgraded to 50-bedded hospital, the hospital had 35 beds. “I don't understand the purpose of adding more beds to the hospital when you are not going to provide required human resources?” he questioned adding further that the government must respond to public health concerns without further delays.
This is a hospital for the poor people. They come here for treatment from remote areas. However, as the hospital does not have doctors or medicines, most of them are deprived of their basic rights to proper healthcare. - Keshab Jung Shah,
Civic society leader
“The government is supposed to provide several types of medicines to the patients. But at this hospital these medicines are never available because of which poor people have to buy them from private pharmacies,” he said. “If poor people can't get those medicines when they need, what is the purpose of declaring that government will provide them for free?”
He claimed many people in the district die untimely in lack of proper medical care. If these deaths are investigated, he claimed, the actual fatality owing to the lack medical care would be very high. “But nobody cares to investigate this death. People are dying and the government does not care.”
According to Dr Shah, doctors and health workers who were supposed to provide service from the hospital are on long vacation. Citing one or the other reason, they have remained away from the hospital.
Dr Shah is a local of Jajarko and therefore there is little interest and probability that he goes on long holidays, like others do Keshab Jung said. "As per our knowledge, he is a local resident so he has not shown interest to move away. Or else, nobody stays here for long. With this trend, how can the government ensure better health services to the public? If the hospitals don't have doctors, where would people go when they get sick?" he questioned.
Even primary health care centers and birthing centers are in pathetic situation. Sight of doctor or health worker in those health centers is equally rare. Keshab Jang reported that the lack of monitoring by concerned authorities is responsible for the sorry state of health sector in the district.
Jajarkot Chief District Officer, Pushpa Raj Shahi admitted the people are not getting proper health service. "There are multiple reasons," he said.
Chief of the District Hospital Jajarkot, Dr Chandani Jaiswal is in Kathmandu for the last three months. Medical officers Dr Krishna Jang Shah and Dr Dharma Raj Regmi are out of country 'for studies'. Similarly, medical officer Bhupendra Malla has been away from hospital for some 'training'. Many other officials have not even filed reasons to take leave.
"I cannot take leave even for a single day. If I do, there will be no one here. It all feels like a farce to run this huge hospital absolutely without any other staff," Dr Shah said. He added that the hospital itself is 'bed ridden' in lack of workforce.