Patients continue to suffer as doctors and government stand their ground

- Arjun Poudel, Kathmandu

Apr 10, 2019-

Nepal Medical Association, an umbrella organisation of medical doctors, has warned of severe consequences if the government takes harsh steps against the government doctors who have been on strike for the last five days.

The association’s warning comes amid government’s refusal to pay heed to the doctors’ demands, just as thousands of patients continue to suffer across the country due to the ongoing strike.

Dr Muktiram Shrestha, chairman of the association, said office bearers of the association on Tuesday met Health Minister Upendra Yadav and apprised him of the agitating doctors’ concerns.

“We have told Health Minister Yadav in clear terms that the situation could turn worse if force is used against the agitating doctors,” Shrestha told the Post over the phone. “We brought this to the minister’s notice after we learned that the Home Ministry was planning to make a move to quell the agitating doctors’ protest.”

The government doctors are up in arms, objecting to some provisions of the Civil Service Adjustment Bill which they say hamper their career prospects. They have been demanding that they should be allowed to work under the federal government.

“We are ready to hold talks with the authorities concerned about our demands,” said Dr Dipendra Pandey, chairman of the Government Doctors Association of Nepal. “But the government does not seem to be serious towards our demands. Hence, we were left with no option than to resort to protests.”

Over 1,400 doctors have been serving in government-run health facilities across the country.

It is estimated that about 100,000 patients seek treatment in government health facilities throughout the country every day. Most of the patients reach the government health facilities for quality care at an affordable price, as they cannot afford services at private hospitals, which charge exorbitant fees.

As government doctors, supported by the Nepal Medical Association, and the government continue to stick to their guns, the country’s poor have been deprived of basic health care service, which is their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said discussion was under way to find a way out.

“We have been holding discussions on amending some provisions of the Civil Servant Adjustment Bill to address the government doctors’ concerns,” Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, spokesperson for the Health Ministry told the Post. “We have also requested the agitating doctors to return to work, but they have refused.”

Published: 10-04-2019 11:10

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