Bill requires government hospitals to have their own pharmacies

Kathmandu, August 16

The Public Health Bill registered by the Ministry of Health and Population in the Parliament for approval stipulates a provision which guarantees citizens’ right to basic and emergency health services.

According to Section 29 of the bill, the MoHP and provincial government may establish and operate an emergency health fund to provide necessary financial assistance to the poor and disadvantaged persons who are not able to bear medical expenses. The proposed law also requires government hospitals to run their own pharmacy and sell drugs at a fair price.

“Doctors and health workers shall have to mention generic name while prescribing medicines. However, in the case of patent and new drugs, they may recommend the medicines in brand name,” the bill states. It also requires the doctors and health workers to treat all clients/patients equally and fairly. “Doctors and health workers shall behave with patients respectfully. However, they may make prioritisation depending on severity of illness,” it reads. The proposed law also makes service-seekers abide by the rules of the health institutions and respect health workers.

“The Government of Nepal shall make arrangements for providing specialised service in any part of the country on the basis of geographical condition, epidemic rate and availability of such services,” it says, adding that each health institution and health worker shall provide emergency service. The expenses of emergency service shall be borne by the concerned patient or his/her parents or guardians. However, basic health services will be provided free of charge.

According to the bill, no patient shall be discriminated on the grounds of his/her origin, religion, colour, caste, ethnicity, gender, occupation, sexual and gender identification, physical or health condition, disability, marital status, pregnancy and ideology, among others. Doctors and health workers shall also abide by professional code of ethics as prescribed.

The proposed law has also guaranteed a patient’s right to privacy. As per Section 14, any health institution shall maintain confidentiality of the details of a person’s health condition and the curative services received by him/her and such information should not be disclosed without his/her consent in writing or a court order which requires disclosure of such information.  The bill makes it mandatory for each health institution to deliver services through qualified doctors and health workers besides disseminating information about available health services.