Print Edition - 2015-11-22  |  Free the Words

Where’s the govt?

  • Hospitals are running out of medicines, but the govt still does not have a plan to resolve the crisis
- CHANDA RANA, Kathmandu

Nov 22, 2015-

My third follow-up survey on the impact of Indian blockade on medical services has left me seriously worried. After more than 50 days of the blockade, I visited some hospitals and found that the health workers and doctors to be confused and worried about the availability of critical life- saving drugs and other essential medicines. They fear a serious shortage of drugs such as adrenalin and verapamil. Similarly, injectable drugs, among others, are yet to be supplied to the hospitals and pharmacies  even after my first survey was handed over to the government.

No drugs, no blood

Even the blood banks are fast running out of blood and test kits along with blood bags. A head of a blood bank of a major hospital told me that she spends sleepless nights thinking about the shortage and fearing the consequences in case of an emergency. The fact that a health worker is so concerned and worried about the possibility of a shortage of blood, should ring an alarm bell to all those concerned. Yet, the government does not seem to be bothered to address the problem. I had also raised this issue and published my distressing findings (‘Inhumane blockade,’ October 11). I even handed over the copies of my article to the deputy prime minister, to the prime minister’s office and other concerned ministries, requesting them to hold an urgent meeting with the doctors of the concerned hospitals and pharmacies to find a solution to this crisis. This included a suggestion to airlift the required drugs on a priority basis. As the blockade continues, doctors, affected patients also need to raise this issue. As for the media, it should give extensive coverage to this issue.

The apathy of the government regarding this sensitive issue is distressing. Health services in this country are now at a stage where they cannot cope with the daily demands of patients that come to hospitals and pharmacies. It boggles the mind that the government cannot even spare an hour of its time to hold an urgent meeting with the concerned authorities in the health sector to coordinate and discuss ways to resolve the shortage.

Given the gravity of the situation, Prime Minister KP Oli should urgently call a Cabinet meeting to take immediate measures to restock the much-needed life saving drugs and other medicines to health facilities all over the country as a priority. Furthermore, I request PM Oli to make the UN and other international organisations aware of the current scenario in Nepal which is a result of the inhumane blockade by India. It is necessary that the international community assist us to end this blockade at the earliest. The international community should be more vocal about this blockade faced by a landlocked country which is yet to recover from the devastating earthquakes that took place just six months ago.

Humanitarian crisis

Given this troubling situation, I request the Nepal Medical Association (NMA) to pressure the government to resolve this problem. At the same time I would like to request the NMA to make the international community aware of the problems faced by our health sector and ask them whether this is a ‘humanitarian crisis’ or not.

The international community needs to urgently speak out in clear terms against this humanitarian crisis Nepal is facing, deprived of life saving drugs because of the Indian blockade which they are fully aware of.

Rana is an environmentalist and founder of Save The Environment Foundation

Published: 22-11-2015 08:36

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