NMA demands health secy with med background

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Nepal Medical Association warns government of stern protest, including shutting down of health facilities, if its demand is not met

Apr 21, 2016-The Nepal Medical Association (NMA) submitted a memorandum to Health Minister Ram Janam Chaudhary on Wednesday, warning of a stern protest including shut down of health facilities across the country if the government does not appoint health secretary with medical background. 

The association had in August 2014 protested against a Cabinet decision to appoint Shanta Bahadur Shrestha as health secretary. Following Shrestha’s appointment, Dr Tirtha Raj Burlakoti, a strong candidate for the post, resigned from his position.  

Amid mounting pressure from the NMA, the then Health Minister Khagaraj Adhikari had agreed to review the decision in 15 days but no decision was taken. 

“We’ve been silent for over a year now. But having a non-medical person as secretary at the Health Ministry has reflected poorly on health programmes,” said President of NMA Anjani Kumar Jha, stressing the need to bring in someone with a sound understanding of public health and medicine as the secretary. 

There are many eligible doctors for the position of Health Secretary in the Ministry of Health (MoH). 

According to Clause 19 of the Nepal Health Service Act 1997, officers who have “served for at least five years in the Eleventh level of the health service or an employee serving in the Twelfth level may be appointed to the post of secretary” at the Health Ministry.

Given the provision, there are three strong candidates in Twelfth level--Dr Padam Bahadur Chand; Dr Sinendra Upreti and Dr Kiran Regmi--within the Health Ministry for the position. Dr Chand and Dr Upreti were promoted to Twelfth level on May 1, 2015, while Dr Regmi was promoted to the position some four months later. 

There were suggestions that the health minister sought a bribe from aspirants which Chaudhary vehemently denies. “I will table the proposal at the Cabinet. If PM endorses my recommendation, we will soon have secretary with medical background,” said Chaudhary. 

The Health Ministry had its first secretary with medical background in 1979 when the then PM Surya Bahadur Thapa appointed Dr Laxman Poudel as acting secretary. Following the amendment of the Act in 2006, Dr Nirakar Man Shrestha, Dr Dirgha Singh Bam (acting), Dr Sudha Sharma and Dr Praveen Mishra have served as the health secretary.

Published: 21-04-2016 07:06

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