Doctors’ strike hits patients hard across country

  • Demands of doctors are genuine, but the ministry cannot do anything

Kathmandu, April 5

Thousands of patients across the country were hit hard after the government doctors halted health services, except emergency services, as part of their protest today.

Some 50,000 patients across the country were deprived of health services today, according to the Government Doctors’ Association of Nepal.

Government doctors halted all health services demanding a reconsideration of their adjustment under the federal set-up of the government. Many government doctors complain that the government’s act of transferring them to provinces will deprive them of career growth opportunities.

“We feel bad for the people unable to get health services due to our protest programme, but we have no other option but to halt health services to draw the government’s attention towards our demands,” said President of Government Doctors’ Association of Nepal Dr Dipendra Pandey.

Health services at Bir Hospital, National Trauma Centre, Kanti Children’s Hospital and Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku, were halted in Kathmandu today.

Pandey added that all government doctors were against the adjustment programme and would resign if their demands were not met soon.

“Adjustment of doctors alone will not guarantee quality health services. Along with doctors, we need a number of anaesthesiologists and nurses to ensure quality health services. The government needs to consider this fact,” said Pandey.

According to Pandey, of the 15 doctors working at Seti Zonal Hospital, 13 were transferred to central hospitals. The hospital is in need of 40 specialist doctors, but with the flawed adjustment programme of the government the hospital will have only two doctors to attend a throng of patients at the hospital. It serves as a referral hospital for the far western region.

Government Doctors’ Association of Nepal also informed that doctors who were providing services in rural areas have been transferred to other places without their consent. “Not only doctors but local authorities and locals of rural areas are also dissatisfied with the way the government has adjusted doctors,” Pandey said, adding that hundreds of locals, including local authorities and people’s representatives of Far-west Province supported their protest.

“We are paid low yet we are working happily in rural areas. But the government is trying to deprive us of our right to professional growth,” said Anup Bastola, chief consultant tropical medicine at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.

He suggested that doctors should have been adjusted only after analysing the required number of doctors, condition of health facilities, number of patients, medical status and demographic condition.

Meanwhile, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population Mahendra Shrestha said, “Demands of doctors are genuine, but the ministry can do nothing to fulfil their demands."

“We had agreed to request the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration to make necessary amendments to the Employee Adjustment Bill before it was passed and authenticated. The Federal Civil Service Act is coming soon and we will address demands of doctors through this act,” said Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population Shrestha.

“Doctors will not be deprived of promotion and will be able to earn higher academic qualifications. However, the government cannot bring all doctors under the federal government,” said spokesperson Shrestha.