Chief Minister Pokhrel says they have allocated sufficient budget to provide free treatment to COVID-19 patients in the province
DANG, Oct 21: Despite the federal government’s recent decision of not bearing the costs of the treatment of COVID-19 patients, Lumbini Province government has announced to provide free of cost treatment to COVID-19 patients across the province.
Chief Minister of Lumbini Province, Shankar Pokhrel on Tuesday clarified that the provision of free of cost treatment to COVID-19 patients with symptoms is still available in the four designated COVID-19 hospitals in the province.
The COVID-19 hospitals set up by the provincial government are located at Ayurveda Hospital, Beljhundi, Dang, COVID-19 Hospital in Butwal, Bhim Hospital in Bhairahawa and Bheri Hospital in Nepalgunj.
Citing the federal government’s decision as an inappropriate move, Chief Minister Pokhrel also said that the provincial government will not revoke its earlier decision to provide free of cost treatment to COVID-19 patients as they have already allocated adequate budget for the purpose. “We will not charge any fees for COVID-19 tests as well,” he said adding that it goes against the universal principle of human rights to deny treatment to people during a pandemic.
The announcement of the Lumbini Province government comes amid widespread criticism from the public as the federal government on October 12 decided not to bear the costs of treatment and PCR testing of COVID-19 patients effective from Sunday.
People have taken to social media platforms to vent their ire against the government, charging that the federal government is violating the people’s right to basic health. Various human rights organizations accused the government of even ignoring an order of the Supreme Court in this regard.
Provincial Minister for Social Development, Sudarshan Baral also said that they will not backtrack on the decision of the government to provide free of cost medical treatment to COVID-19 patients. “If we do so, it goes against the spirit of the constitution and human rights,” he added.
Minister Baral had already directed the officials at the COVID-19 hospitals in the province not to charge any fees for the treatment of COVID-19. Dr Sarbesh Sharma, the chief at the COVID-19 hospital in Dang told Republica that the minister had instructed them to treat the COVID-19 patients for free.
The Lumbini province, which shares its southern border with India, has a total 4,349 active COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday afternoon. Of them, nearly 300 are undergoing treatment at the COVID-19 hospitals in the province. A total of 52 critical COVID-19 patients are being treated at the intensive care units while five others have been put on ventilators. Similarly, 250 other COVID-19 patients are being treated in general wards.