The acupuncture centre run by the Public Health Department of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City in Teku hardly draws any clients these days.
The alternative treatment service was started 15 years ago to cater to the people suffering from conditions like joint pains, headache, cramps, back pain and those undergoing stroke rehabilitation. The 20-bed facility offers service to general patients for just Rs 25 while private clinic service is also available for Rs 500. But with a number of therapy and rehabilitation centres in the city, the KMC’s acupuncture centre rarely receives any clients.
Four patients were receiving acupuncture service when the Post visited the centre recently.
Harsa Man Maharjan, one of the two acupuncturists at the centre, said he and a fellow acupuncturist sat idle most of the time because not many people visit the facility.
“The service costs next to nothing and yet only a few patients visit the centre,” he said.
He noted that the centre lacked publicity and better location in order to attract patients.
The building where the facility is being run was structurally compromised in the 2015 earthquake, but little has been done on the reinforcement front. The place is also not centrally located. And on top of that, the nearby garbage transfer centre is off-putting, to say the least.
The KMC acupuncture centre used to draw a large number of clients when it was first established in Naxal, at the initiative of former mayor, Keshav Sthapit, according to Dr Baburam Gautam, the former chief of the KMC Public Health Department and Social Welfare Department.
“When the centre was first established in 2001, there used to be 200 beds and staff members who had come from North Korea. Patient flow used to be high. The beds were rarely empty,” recalled Dr Gautam. “The centre was shifted to the Environment Division of the KMC in 2008 after the Korean acupuncture experts returned to their country.”
Hari Kumar Shrestha, the chief of Public Health Department, said the facility had to be shifted because the KMC could not pay the rent.
“We also didn’t have elected representatives for a long period. That, too, led to the facility’s decline,” he added.
Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya claimed that he was already in talks with the officials of the Public Health Department about reviving the centre. “It is on our list of priorities to improve the condition of the centre and offer better services,” he said.