With top positions vacant, Karnali hospital on verge of shutdown
January 30, 2017 07:44 AM NPT
By: DB Buda
Doctors at the teaching hospital of Karnali Academy of Health Sciences in Jumla examining patients.
JUMLA, Jan 30: Karnali Academy of Health Sciences (KAHS) in Jumla is on the verge of closure due to government’s inability to make key appointments. For the past nine months the academy has been operating without vice chancellor and director. This has affected thousands of people in the Karnali zone that visit the academy’s teaching hospital for medical services.
“The academy does not have VC, registrar and director. This has left the academy and the teaching hospital in a mess,” said Dwanda Bahadur Shahi, administrative officer at the academy. “Political power sharing is the culture but there has been no consensus over the appointees,” he said.
While the Prime Minister remains the chancellor of such government bodies, key positions are mostly political appointments rather than on individual’s capacity and merit. Civil society in Karnali zone states that this is very important hospital for them and expressed concerns that it was becoming a victim of the politics. “Locals say that despite being the most backward zone, Karnali had begun to breathe a new life in terms of health services with the presence of this big hospital. And express anguish stating that politicians are trying to destroy their lifeline,” he said.
Due to long vacant positions, the hospital’s financial, academic and administrative performances have been seriously affected, Shahi stated. “In lack of required resources we have been not able to provide quality health services to patients. If this continues soon we will have to shut down all the hospital services except emergency services,” he said.
According to Shahi, the health ministry has been informed of this time and again. But the appeal to solve the problem has gone in vain. Hospital sources informed that Rector of the academy Dharma Raj Shrestha never shows up at his office stating that he has been in Kathmandu, probably lobbying for the appointments.
Doctors lamented that if things go on this way for a week more, the hospital might not be able to function anymore. A lot of things are pending for long and the hospital cannot hold it like this anymore, they said.
A three bedded new building of the hospital is under construction. But, the construction work came to a halt recently as the contractors were not paid on time. Procuring of a few new equipments and repairing of equipments have been left in the lurch. This has made the hospital cope with a crunch of basic goods and medicines.
“Master plan of the academy is in limbo. Nothing is going as planned,” said Shahi. He added that decisions pertaining to land ownership of the hospital, revision of its building’s design and many other important tasks are still in limbo. “Since last nine months, meeting of the management committee has not been held,” he informed.
Health Minister is obliged to recommend name for vice chancellor, who has to be certified by the Prime Minister. But internally, these are all political appointments, doctors said, lamenting that the sluggish politics in Kathmandu has been taking its toll on the lives of people living in remote zone like the Karnali.
Scarcity of Oxygen
Even though doctors at the teaching hospital of the academy want to keep the emergency ward open, they fear that depleting stocks of oxygen might force them to shut the emergency services. In lack of payment a Nepalgunj based company that supplies oxygen to the hospital, has denied to continue its services unless its dues are paid.
“In a week’s time the hospital will be out of oxygen supply. After that it won’t be possible for us to provide medical services to patients that need oxygen. And in most cases patients need oxygen,” he said. The academy was established in 2011 by the government and according to its website it says that it was established with an objective to provide quality health service to the people of Karnali zone, as well as to produce quality human resources in the health sector. However, considering the present condition of the hospital, it has become a contradiction in itself.