Kathmandu, May 28 The government allocated a budget of Rs 90.69 billion for the Ministry of Health and Population to improve the health sector. Presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2020-21, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada said high priority would be given to prevention of coronavirus and other infectious diseases. The number of coronavirus infections has reached 1,042 and five persons have succumbed to the respiratory contagion in the country. Considering the rise in the number of coronavirus cases, the government has allocated a budget of Rs six billion to prevent the coronavirus spread. Minister Khatiwada said testing for coronavirus would be extended in high risk areas. Also, priority would be given for procurement of medial equipment necessary to prevent transmission and COV- ID-19 treatment. He also said allowances and incentives would be provided to health workers involved in COVID-19 treatment and those working in laboratories. The government has decided to establish a separate 300- bed communicable diseases hospital in the Capital and 50- bed communicable diseases hospitals in the capital of each province. The government also decided to establish 250- bed intensive care units in Kathmandu valley and in government hospitals in the capitals of other provinces. A total of Rs 14.27 billion has been allocated to construct 272 hospitals next year across the country. According to Minister Khatiwada, Pokhara Academy of Health Sciences, Karnali Academy of Health Sciences, Koshi Hospital, Narayani Hospital, Bharatpur Hospital, Bheri Hospital, and Dadeldhura Hospital will be developed as specialty hospitals. The government has allocated Rs 12.46 billion to develop infrastructure in the health sector. “The capacity of National Public Health Laboratory will be enhanced as per international guidelines,” said Khatiwada. He also said budget has been allocated to establish highly equipped laboratories in the provinces and medical equipment would be made available to establish laboratories in all health facilities, pharmacies would be run in hospitals and health desks would be operated at each entry point. A sum of 7.50 billion rupees has been allocated to health insurance programme. According to Khatiwada, all the citizens will be brought under the insurance programme within three years while 40 per cent of the population will be brought into the insurance programme next year. Khatiwada said necessary budget had been allocated to declare the country fully immunised. A sum of Rs 4.22 billion has been allocated to provide free treatment of heart diseases for elderly citizens and children, for life threatening diseases and for controlling HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and leprosy. Arrangements have been made to provide free emergency health services for poor people at central hospitals. He also said that medical super-specialty centre will be established in the country. Shahid Gangalal Heart Centre, Paropakar Maternity Hospital, Human Organ Transplant Centre, Kanti Hospital and Bir Hospital will provide satellite and telemedicine services in areas where there are no specialty services. Similarly, budget has also been allocated for extension of Manmohan Cardiothoracic Vascular and Transplant Centre, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, BP Koirala Cancer Hospital, GP Koirala National Centre for Respiratory Diseases, Sushil Koirala Prakhar Cancer Hospital, Ram Raja Prasad Singh Academy of Health Sciences and Bir Hospital. Arrangements have also been made to use private health centres by the government during disasters and pandemic. Nepal Health Research Council will also be developed as a research centre for prevention of infectious diseases and Nepal Drug Limited will be expanded. Free health insurance for family members of 52,000 women health volunteers has been given continuity and transportation allowance for women health volunteers has been doubled. Budget has also been allocated to increase beds in intensive care units and infrastructure in Kanti Hospital , to operate child heart treatment in Shahid Gangalal Heart Centre, to procure additional medical equipment and construct buildings of health centres. Arrangements have also been made to establish trauma centres in hospitals on the highways with frequent accidents. Minster Khatiwada also said free health insurance up to Rs 500,000 would be provided to health workers involved in treatment of coronavirus and other infectious diseases. Budget has been allocated to start the initial work for establishment of Centre for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration and National Health Authority. The government has also allocated budget for free treatment of elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and rehabilitation of autistic and differently-abled persons.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 29, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.