Patients to suffer as doctors announce nationwide protest

  • Health workers protest move to deploy them under local governments
- Arjun Poudel, Kathmandu

Feb 22, 2019-

Doctors serving in state-run health facilities across the country have decided to boycott care except for emergency cases on Friday, in a tactic to pressure the government into correcting a provision of the employee adjustment bill that keeps them under the jurisdiction of the local level.

Thousands of patients, especially those who cannot afford costly treatment at private health facilities, will be deprived of medical care. Most patients rely on government health facilities for treatment as they provide services at rates cheaper than at private hospitals and nursing homes.

More than 1,400 doctors work at government health facilities—primary health care centres, and district, regional, zonal and central hospitals.

“We are forced to take this unpleasant decision,” Dr Dipendra Pandey, chairman of the Government Doctors Association of Nepal (GODAN), told the Post. “The Health Ministry has largely ignored our concerns.”

GODAN has been protesting for a month demanding an amendment to the employee adjustment bill that has a draft provision to place doctors under the local administration. The doctors want to work under the federal government.

GODAN is of the opinion that doctors’ progress will be hampered if they are supervised by the local level.

“If government doctors are placed under the local units, then their mobilisation will be restricted,” said Pandey. Since their specialisation will not be utilised, it will rob them ultimately of the opportunity to gain experience and learn through practice, he added.

The organisation said that doctors serving in state health institutions were ready to work anywhere as decided by the ministry but they should be posted under the federal government.

Doctors’ strike hit patients across the country on Wednesday. GODAN said it has been collecting signatures from doctors for mass resignation. It would be submitted to the health secretary on Friday.

The Health Ministry said it takes the doctors’ protest seriously. “We have been working to amend the Health Act to address the demands of government doctors,” said Mahendra Prasad Shrestha of the ministry.

Published: 22-02-2019 10:10

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