DHANGADHI, Jan 18: Patients in Dhangadhi and neighboring districts have been struggling in lack of treatment as nurses and health workers of Seti Zonal Hospital (SZH) have been staging protests since a few days against the low pay and perks.
SZH is the biggest referral hospital of Province 7 which provides health services to hundreds of patients. As the nurses have been boycotting their duties as a part of nation-wide protests, the patients who have already been admitted to the hospital have been worst affected. According to the relatives and family members of the patients, absence of nurses in hospitals has further affected the health of the already ill patients. "Patients have not been able to take their medicines on time," laments Hira Lal Bohora, a patient who has come to the hospital from Bajhang.
There were altogether 52 nurses in SZH and currently all of them have shunned their duties in order to protest against the low pay and exploitation. They have put forward an 11-point demand to the hospital administration.
Nurses across the country are hitting the streets since the last few days under the initiation of Nursing Association of Nepal (NAN). According to Yashodha Dhakal, district chairperson of NAN, nurses are obliged to shun their duties despite being aware of the sufferings of the patients. "We have decided that we won't stop our protest as long as the government and the responsible authorities don't address our demands," said Dhakal.
As of now, nurses are boycotting their duties for three hours a day but they have warned to stop their duties completely if their demands are not addressed within a few days. As SZH is the only hospital with ICU and other important services, patients in the province have no other option but to travel to the hospital for treatment. "We are not even able to provide basic facilities and services to the patients in the absence of nurses," said Dr Sher Bahadur Kamar, a physician.
The agitating nurses have demanded that no nurse should be exploited in the name of volunteers and they should be provided with minimum salary and perks as per the provision set by the government. They have also demanded various kinds of medical allowances and privileges for nurses.