Minister Thapa seeks support for health sector reform

Kathmandu, January 3

Minister for Health Gagan Thapa said his ministry alone could not improve health services throughout the country without support from other ministries.

Speaking at a programme organised in Kathmandu today, Minister Thapa said the health ministry needed support of the ministries of agriculture, education, home and other government organisations to increase people’s access to health services.

“Our target is to provide free health services to people; ensure doctors, nurses, and community health volunteers in every health facility; and construct health posts in every VDC. It can take more than 40 years to construct health posts in each part of the country and a single ministry cannot shoulder the entire burden,” he said.

Minister Thapa claimed problems relating to management of human and other resources in hospitals, availability of medicines and financial irregularities could be resolved only by first solving the problems in governance.

He also informed that in coordination with the Ministry of Health, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City and other local agencies, 10 health promotion centres would soon be established in Kathmandu.

According to a report by Green Tara Nepal, during 1996, there was nearly a 30 per cent gap in access to skilled medical attendance during childbirth between the rich and the poor. The gap has now increased to 70 per cent. The report shows women have less decision-making power in health care. The percentage of pregnant women aged between 15 and 49 years having at least one antenatal check-up in the hospital has increased from 24 per cent in 1996 to 58 per cent in 2011.

“Fifty years ago the health sector in the country was barely organised. It has made enormous progress now, but the progress is inconsistent and not equally distributed,” said Ram Chandra Silwal, director of Green Tara Nepal.