KATHMANDU, Jan 9: Health Assistants (HAs) working at government health facilities have launched a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), protesting against the ministry's civil servants adjustment plan.
The MoHP has formulated a separate policy to adjust the employees under it according to the federal setup embraced by the country. According to the Health Assistant Association Nepal (HAAN), about 5,000 HAs began the protest against the ministry on Tuesday, proposing a different adjustment plan against the cabinet decision.
There are around 12,000 HAs working at government facilities across the country. Among them, about 5,000 have completed a three-year course while around 7,000 have completed a 15-month course, according to HAAN.
“The government promoted those 7,000 to the sixth level a few years ago on the basis of work experience,” said Dipendra Khadka, acting president of the HAAN. “However, Health and Population Minister Upendra Yadav recently prepared a policy proposing to assign the sixth level HAs as the in-charge of the health posts across the country,” he said. “The cabinet earlier had decided to assign fifth or sixth level HAs as the in-charge of health posts.”
“The MoHP went against the cabinet decision. So, we launched the protests,” said Khadka. “We have boycotted our work at the health posts from today throughout the country,” he added. “All 5,000 HAs will gather in Kathmandu tomorrow and continue the sit-in in front of the ministry,” he warned.
The agitating HAs had submitted a memorandum to Minister Yadav on Sunday. “However, Minister Yadav did not listen to us, compelling us to stage the sit-in at the ministry today too,” said Khadka. “Police intervened in our protests at 3:30 pm when I was addressing the participants of the protest,” he added. “Police have warned us not to enter the ministry from tomorrow. But we will enter the ministry at 10 am to stage the protests.”
HAAN's six-point demand includes assigning the HAs as per the Civil Service Act and cabinet decision, without violating the chain of command while assigning HAs at the local level while implementing the Civil Servants Adjustment Ordinance.