KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Health and Population has finalised a concept programme on ‘Cooperatives in Health’ to encourage the participation of cooperative institutions in the health sector and make health services available to the people living in rural areas.
The programme with the slogan ‘Need of New Nepal, Cooperatives in Health’ will cover 70 health cooperatives in the country and is part of this year’s fiscal budget.
According to Dr Anand Kumar Shrestha, director of the Primary Health Care Revitalisation Division at the health ministry, the health cooperative concept is meant to include more cooperatives to provide economic and accessible health services at the community level.
He said the division will draft strategy and directives within this fiscal for the implementation of the programme.
“Health cooperatives are crucial for Nepal because of its complex rural topography,” the director said.
Although each citizen is entitled to health service, the state has not been able to provide easy and economical health services to people in rural areas, he added. Dr Shrestha said commercialisation of health facilities in the urban areas has denied the poor and the marginalised people the access to health services.
According to the Nepal Health Demographic Survey (NDHS)-2011, 40 per cent of the population in the mountain region, 50 per cent in the hilly region and 80 per cent in the Tarai region live within 30 minutes of walking distance from health institutions. Most of the populations in mountain and hilly regions have been deprived of health services.
The programme is based on the premise that health is an important factor for economic growth and that economic development can be achieved only through close collaboration within government, cooperative and private sector.
At a time when private sectors are providing urban-centric services and the government health services are not much effective, the cooperatives in the health system can play a crucial role to make health services accessible to the poor and the marginalised lot, added Shrestha.
He said the cooperatives are especially designed to provide quality and affordable health services to its members.
As per the programme, the cooperatives will work to produce and collect herbal medicine, help develop model health villages and institutionalise the natural health system at the given areas.
The cooperatives can also contribute to women and children’s health by assisting in nutrition initiatives and running run ambulances, among others. They can also assist in infrastructure development in the health sector.