Kathmandu, January 20

The government has decided to establish geriatric wards in four more hospitals across the country this fiscal.

According to the Ministry of Health and Population, geriatric wards will be set up in Mechi Hospital, Janakpur Hospital, Hetauda Hospital and Karnali Province Hospital.

The ministry has decided to extend the services in the hospitals having more than 100-bed capacity. The government had established geriatric wards in 12 hospitals till the last fiscal.

“A decision has been taken to this effect by the ministry to provide easy health services to elderly persons. Every elderly person across the country should get easy health service and the government is very serious about this. We will keep on adding geriatric wards to more hospitals in the coming days,” said Dr Bikash Devkota, division chief, Policy Planning and Monitoring Division at the Ministry of Health and Population.

Though the government has directed hospitals to give health services to the elderly population from a separate geriatric ward, many hospitals do not have separate wards for the elderly.

Bir Hospital has been providing services to patients from its general wards and cabins. “We have not been able to allocate a separate ward for elderly people. We have been admitting them to the general ward or at times to the cabin as per the situation,” said Dr Kedar Century, director at Bir Hospital.

Also, the hospital has not been able to spend budget allocated for geriatric services.

About 45 patients visit the geriatric OPD daily in the hospital, said Dr Century.

Geriatric experts say that elderly persons need geriatric wards with out-door patient service.

“Increasing life expectancy leading to a rise in the number of elderly population and decreasing fertility in the country has compelled the government to think about geriatric health services.

Dedicated specialists are necessary to treat the elderly persons as they tend to develop certain kinds of neuro-degenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson’s, among others. If there are geriatric physicians in the health centres, it will help diagnose the disease early and begin treatment accordingly,” said Dr Ramesh Kandel, geriatrician, ex-consultant ageing, at World Health Organisation South East Asia Region.

“Also, complications of diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes are seen more during old age. There is a difference between the disease seen at a young age and old age. A person suffers from many kinds of diseases with increasing age. It is not only the geriatric wards, but there also should be at least one geriatrician in a tertiary hospital,” said Dr Kandel.