Govt ‘reviewing’ demand to cut import duties on life-saving drugs, machines

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 23:

The government is reviewing the demand to curtail taxes on custom duties on life-saving drugs and medical equipment so as to provide the services to the needy at an affordable price. Finance Minister Madhukar SJB Rana said so at the inauguration function of the Second Annual Conference of Dialysis Nurses of Nepal held today, adding the “insurance policy for such expensive medical treatment should be encouraged”. Rana said the recent agreement with the Kidney Centre of Karachi, to provide support and train Nepali manpower, could help produce skilled manpower in the sector. Dr Nirakar Man Shrestha, director general at the Department of Health Services, Ministry of Health, said the ministry is working towards making dialysis facility easily available to the country’s patients.

Dr Shrestha said the government is planning to give a chance to private hospitals for kidney transplantations, if the result at the Bir hospital proved to be successful. A kidney transplantation committee was formed two years ago and gave Bir Hospital the sole responsibility to carry out kidney transplantations. “The strict criteria of such a move was to check the transplantation’s commercialisation,” said Dr Shrestha. Altogether there are 11 dialysis centres in the country — eight in the Valley and three outside. Only 200 persons have been able to avail of the centres’ services owing to various reasons, like financial constraints and accessibility to the centres. It is estimated that around 10,000 persons in the country are in need of dialysis. Dr Rishi Kumar Kafle, general secretary of the Nepal Society of Nephrology,

said the government should reduce the custom duties on imported life-saving materials, such as dialysis machines, in order to make the treatment affordable to needy patients. Member of the Public Service Commission Bijaya KC said that since the credit for all successful dialysis in the country goes to the nurses, there was a need to raise a voice for their rights.