These recent photos show Rolpa District Hospital and patients undergoing treatment (above right). Photo: Republica
ROLPA, Aug 10: Shortage of staff at District Hospital, Rolpa is not a new issue. However, this time the problem has surfaced due to the lack of coordination between different government bodies.
Rolpa Municipality had released budget for the hospital management last year. But this time, it says it cannot do so as the responsibility has shifted to the federal government. The municipality has turned indifferent even through there is acute shortage of staff at the hospital.
On the other hand, the provincial government does not seem to be aware of the problem.
Health Minister of Province 5 Dr Uma Shankar Prasad Chaudhari expressed his ignorance about the shortage of staff at the hospital.
“How can there be crisis of staff all of a sudden? Hospital employs staff and doctors in quota system,” he argued. “Anyway, if the matter is really worrisome, staff shall be transferred there,” he added.
It is noteworthy that the hospital never had full capacity of human resource in the first place. Just like many other government hospitals of the country, Rolpa Hospital was struggling in the lack of sufficient number of doctors and nurses since long. In such a scenario, the hospital was relying on service from temporary staff and Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANM).
Before the federal setup, there were around three dozens of ANMs working in the district directly under the health ministry. The number of ANMs is still the same but the number of local units has multiplied.
The health ministry (federal) has transferred the ANMs to 10 different local units. The reshuffling has created a kind of chaos at the health centers and hospitals. ANMs working at Rolpa Hospital have also been transferred to other health posts creating vacant posts at the hospital. The problem has come to the fore with the beginning of the current fiscal year. According to the hospital authority, the problem is serious and the solution is not visible.
“We have lost four ANMs at once. This has definitely affected the hospital’s day to day operation,” said Dr Anil KC of the hospital. “The provincial government has said it cannot do anything about the shortage right now,” he added.
The four staff lost by the hospital were serving at its OPD. Without those staff, the management and service has naturally gone worse.
The 15-bed hospital is visited by thousands of people from the rural villages of Rolpa and nearby districts. Small to complex health issues bring the people of poor communities here while those from well off families are often airlifted to better health care centers. According to Dr KC, the hospital has fallen short in terms of infrastructure and number of staff.
“The Hospital Development Committee has some authority. It has already recruited 12 staff. Now the hospital administration cannot add anymore staff. Neither any other body is going to send staff here,” he elaborated.
The Hospital Development Committee is often blamed for indulging in politics while recruiting staff at the hospital. Irregularity in attendance by such staff is an open secret which has hit several health centers across the country.
Meanwhile, Meena Kunwar, a staff nurse at the hospital, shared the problems caused by limited staff at the hospital. Let alone taking leave, we cannot even take rest for a while, she said.
“There are so few of us that we have to work almost round the clock. And there is no question of taking leave,” she lamented. “This has indeed affected the patients and other visitors as well. The entire hospital is in a mess.”
She added that even the existing staff may fall sick if they have to continue working is such circumstances. “The situation is so critical.”
According to mayor of the municipality, Purna KC, the problem has to be sorted out at any cost. The provincial government should take the responsibility.
“There shouldn’t be any compromise in a vital sector like health,” he said.