Medicine shortage in far-flung districts

Published On: April 10, 2018 06:59 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 10: A consignment of medicines meant for Dolpa district has remained stranded at Nepalgunj-based Rajha Airport since the past two weeks. Airway is the only viable transportation method to take the medicines to the far-flung Dolpa. However, 156 cartons of medicine have been stuck at the airport due to delay in chartering helicopters or planes. 

This is not the first time that transporting medicine to Dolpa has been delayed. In fact, people of Dolpa, Mugu, Jajarkot and Humla among many other rural districts of mid-western region have been facing this situation every year. Difficult access to transportation, weak management, sluggish work of local government bodies among other reasons have been delaying transportation of medicines in those districts. 

Mid-western Regional Medical Store in Nepalgunj is responsible to supply medicines to 16 districts. Tender is announced for the transportation of medical supplies in those districts from the regional headquarters Nepalgunj. However, transportation problem has made it very difficult to deliver the medicines to the remote areas, depriving many health institutes of life-saving drugs for prolonged period.

According to Dilli Raj Pokharel, public health officer of Mid-western Regional Medical Store, they also request passengers heading to Dolpa to carry some of the stocks of medicines, including Vitamin A and vaccines.

Health institutes of Humla district have been reeling under severe shortage of medicines, which has now become a routine. The current situation has become so dire that health institutes lack even medicines that are provided free of cost by the government. 

“I walked for a day to reach the health post after catching cold and fever. However, I could not get any medicine for treatment,” shared Jokhya Budha, an elderly of Tanjakot Rural Municipality-3. 
Another local, Kali Bahadur Rokaya of Adanchuli Rurual Municipality-2, said he did not even get cetamol. Many people like them are forced to return empty handed due to shortage of medicines. 
The change of season has left many people suffering from cough, cold and other seasonal flu. But as the local units are unable to move forward medicine procurement process, most of them have no choice but to suffer silently. 

In eastern Rukum, initiation has begun to establish District Public Health Office. After adopting the new federal structure, the original border of the district has been divided and the locals are enthusiastic to establish the new health office in their locality. They have demanded the Ministry of Health to construct a 50-bed hospital. 

According to Vice-secretary Baburam Khanal of the ministry, they have already begun the process to construct hospital there. “We have already sent proposals to the ministries of finance and general administration. The process will move forward after the finance ministry approves it,” he said. 

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