KATHMANDU, April 26: The government has done little to address the demands raised by the Government Doctors’ Association of Nepal (Godan). The doctors started staging protests against the execution of the civil service adjustment plan by the government as per the Civil Service Adjustment Act.
The agitating doctors put off their protests for 15 days, from April 14 to 28, after the government asked them to provide it certain time to work on addressing their demands by creating a pool of civil servants and assigning them to government offices at the province and local levels.
The government officials failed to furnish details of the work progress to address their demands. “We have been working. However, we are unable to provide the progress made in terms of percentage,” said Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP). “We have visited the Ministry of Law, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers,” he added, without divulging the details of the work progress.
Government officials claimed that there are legal hurdles to addressing the demands raised by the doctors. “Their concerns should be first incorporated in the Federal Civil Service Bill,” said Shrestha.
According to Godan, the doctors had put off their protests in the last week of February as well after Prime Minister KP Oli assured them to address their demands.
Approximately 50,000 patients seeking services at government hospitals across the country have been affected by the protests being staged by government doctors since April 5. Dissatisfied with the civil service adjustment by the government, the doctors halted all services except emergency at government hospitals.
“If the government fails to address our demands by April 28, we will resume the protests,” said Dr Dipendra Pandey, president of Godan. “But we are hopeful that the government will address our demands in time. Otherwise, a new round of protests will be started in coordination with the nursing staff, health assistants, assistant health workers and doctors,” he added. “Over 27,000 health workers have been working at government health facilities across the country.”
Earlier, the protest programs by the agitating doctors ranged from boycotting the services to mass resignation against the government plan to adjust doctors as per the Civil Service Adjustment Act. The government adjusted the doctors in the new federal structure by keeping them under the federal, provincial and local governments. As per the Civil Service Adjustment Act, the doctors sent to health institutions in the province and local bodies will not be transferred to the health institutions under the federal government.
However, the agitating doctors have demanded that all doctors be assigned by the federal government to the health institutions in the province and local bodies, and be allowed to get transferred back to health institutions under the federal government instead of being kept in the province and local bodies concerned for all time, according to Godan.
The government doctors started staging protests demanding that the agreement signed between Godan and the Ministry of Health and Population on January 13 be implemented.
According to Godan, the doctors launched the protests forwarding their 14 demands, issuing a five-point charter. The 14 demands raised by the doctors include objection to the Civil Servants Adjustment Ordinance, Federal Civil Service Act and other various issues.
The government assigned only 10-15 doctors to Sudur Paschim Province 7 and Karnali Province respectively while 120 doctors were placed in Province 3 and 100 doctors in Province 2, according to Godan.
According to Godan, there are about 1,600 doctors working at the government health facilities across the country. However, the Ministry of Health and Population says there are only about 1,400 doctors working at government health facilities across the country at present. The records maintained by Nepal Medical Council (NMC) show that more than 21,000 doctors are registered with the NMC.