KATHMANDU, MAY 19
53-year-old Mina Maya Tamang (name changed) experienced breathing difficulty while staying in home isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 infection.
Her relatives scrambled to find a bed, in both the government and private hospitals, as they were swamped with patients while ICU and ventilator beds were a far cry.
However after few hours, she was taken to a nearby Kantipur General and Dental Hospital (KGDH) in Basundhara and was kept in oxygen support before staring the treatment. She had to remain in the emergency ward for a couple of days before shifting into a high care ward in the hospital.
After staying there for 13 days in the ward, she was finally discharged from the hospital. However, the medical bills that she had to fend off were exorbitant, it is difficult for an average Nepali to prepare for which. "During this pandemic situation, the government should bear the cost of treatment of it's citizens," Tamang lamented saying that had her family members not been in Hong Kong, she could probably have died in want for treatment. She said her son and daughter-in-law remitted five lakh rupees to clear her medical expenses.
"On hearing about how much the private hospitals charge, an average citizen of this country would rather suffer at home than to seek admission," Tamang lamented.
The hospital has been charging Rs 10,000 for a normal bed, Rs 18,000 for a high care ward with oxygen support, Rs 21,000 for ICU bed and Rs 32,000 for a deluxe bed per day.
Not only the aforementioned hospital, a majority of other private hospitals in Kathmandu are charging on par or over excessive fees from the patients.
The hospital's chairman Buddhiman Shrestha said, "We are yet to take permission from the Ministry of Health and Population to run as a COVID Hospital." When enquired about the charges that the hospital has been footing to the patients, he said, the prices set by the government won't be enough to pay even for the doctors consultations.
The government of Nepal has urged the private hospitals not to charge more than Rs 15,000 for ICU bed per day. However, the private hospitals have been charging exorbitant fees taking advantage of the limited numbers of ICU and ventilator beds during the peak of the pandemic.
Recently, few other private hospitals were summoned notice by the Health Ministry for charging exorbitant fees and were warned to decrease the cost for Covid treatment.
With the rise in the number of cases, Nepal has reported a record number of infections and casualties on a daily basis following the second wave of the pandemic. One of the doctors who wished not to be identified said, the country is under total medical disaster as the number of patients have outnumbered the medical staffs and supplies.
In the meantime, Nepal is struggling to cope with the rising demand of oxygen, cylinders, High Flow Nasal Therapy device, ICU and Ventilator beds services to treat the COVID patients across the country.