KATHMANDU, Sept 25: It has come to light that nearly 80 percent of hospital and research centers registered at the Office of the Company Registrar (OCR) do not carry out any research on health issues and only 8 percent of them submit research studies to the government authorities.
A preliminary report prepared by the Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC) shows that approximately 370 hospital and research centers are registered at the OCR. Of these, 60 percent are registered for operations inside Kathmandu Valley.
It is mostly private hospitals that add ‘research center’ to their names so as to attract more patients. The private hospital and research centers and polyclinics started mushrooming after the political changes of 1990.
As per the rules, hospital and research centers should submit their research reports to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), NHRC and the Ayurved Campus at Kirtipur. Hospital and research centers are registered at OCR only after approval by MoHP and NHRC.
About 80 percent of the private hospital and research centers do not carry out any research at all although they are required to submit two research papers every year, according to NHRC. “We have carried out a study and we found that about 80 percent of these hospital and research centers are non-existent,” said Arun Kumar Sah, research officer at NHRC. “When we contacted them and asked about their research activities, 80 percent did not respond,” he said. “Only 20 percent are carrying out research while just eight percent submitted research reports to the authorities concerned.”
Some of the hospital and research centers have started removing ‘research center’ from their signboards, as carrying out research is a tough proposition. More than 13 such hospitals have made the change to their names, according to NHRC.
Sharing his experience of monitoring such entities in Kathmandu recently, he said, “We found that they have not removed the old boards yet they have changed the names.”
“When we went inside and asked about their research, they showed us documents with the name changes, and it seems they still fool the patients by styling themselves as research centers.”
Babu Kaji Karki, managing director at Om Hospital and Research Center, Kathmandu, said that they have been carrying out research every year in recent years. “We now carry out two to three research activities every year, which was not the case just a few years ago,” he added. “We have never taken additional concessions from the government or any international support,” he claimed.
The hospitals that claim to double as research centers used to be tax exempt for the purchase of vehicles and medical equipment, said officials at MoHP. “They were also given five percent income tax waiver,” said Bikas Devkota, chief of the Policy, Planning and Monitoring Division at MoHP.
However, the government has now stopped providing such concessions. “No additional benefits will be provided to them from this year,” said Dr Dipendra Raman Singh, chief of the Public Health Administration, Monitoring and Evaluation Division at MoHP. “All the hospitals get equal benefits now as per the rules,” he added.
MoHP officials informed that private hospitals still get grants from donors or I/NGOs under the research head.