Monthly livelihood allowance eludes patients

Kathmandu, April 5

Distribution of monthly livelihood allowance of Rs 5,000 to patients suffering from kidney failure, cancer and paralysis due to spinal injury has been halted due to the government’s failure to release fund for the purpose.

“The government should not have given us false hope. I received Rs 5,000 as monthly livelihood allowance the day the programme was inaugurated, but I have received no money since. We were told that the government hasn’t released fund for the purpose to hospitals,” said Amrita Bhandari, a 40-year-old kidney patient undergoing treatment at Bir Hospital.

“The special budget prepared by the Ministry of Finance had not allocated fund for patients of kidney failure. Although the files have been sent for correction, no decision has been taken so far. This is why we haven’t been able to release money to hospitals,” said Prakash Ghimire, paramedic at Department of Health Services.

Nineteen hospitals across the country have submitted details of patients entitled to monthly allowance to the department. As per the details, there are 55 patients of paralysis due to spinal injury, 567 cancer patients and 449 kidney failure patients.

The hospitals, however, haven’t stopped collecting details of such patients. “Every day we have been collecting details of at least 15 such patients. We have already verified documents of 100 such patients and submitted them to the department,” said Tika Ram Paneru, in-charge of Social Service Unit at the hospital.

The government had started providing Rs 5,000 monthly livelihood allowance to patients suffering from kidney failure, cancer and paralysis due to spinal injury from January 26, 2018. The then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba inaugurating the programme had handed cheques worth Rs 5,000 each to 27 patients receiving treatment at Bir Hospital and National Trauma Centre.

The Ministry of Health had said the budget necessary for distributing monthly allowance to patients would be collected from Health Security Tax and additional taxes on cigarette, tobacco and alcohol.

The government has also been providing financial assistance of Rs 100,000 to patients of life threatening diseases from its Poverty Stricken Citizens Fund. The fund was established after the second people’s movement to provide financial assistance to people suffering from life-threatening diseases.

Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, renal failure, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, head and spinal injury, sickle cell anaemia and stroke are covered under this scheme. A total of 17,471 new and old patients received financial assistance from 74 hospitals in the country in the fiscal 2016-17.