July to see launch of plan for the poor

Kathmandu, January 30:

The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has proposed doubling of the health budget with a view to executing a three-year health plan that concentrates more on providing free and quality health services to the poor.

The ministry has proposed Rs 18.63 billion for the plan to be executed from July 2007. The regular health budget is only Rs 9 billion — six per cent of the total national budget.

“The death of any person due to lack of medical treatment and poverty cannot be taken lightly in the 21st century,” Arjun Bahadur Singh, spokesman at the ministry, told this daily.

Singh said various international human rights treaties that declare health services as fundamental rights have been taken into consideration while formulating the three-year plan. He added that the government could not achieve its goals through the 10th five-year plan due to financial constraints.

While the ministry submitted the proposal to the National Planning Commission (NPC) nearly a month ago, it is likely to get a final shape by the first week of March. The NPC is studying feasibility of the plan, Singh said. The proposed plan envisages increasing primary health care services to 90 per cent from the current 78.8 per cent and increasing the availability of essential drugs to 95 per cent from the existing 93 per cent.

The plan aims to minimise maternal mortality rate to 310 per 100,000 from the current 325 per 100,000 along with increasing the number of women who seek pre- delivery services by four times from 47 per cent to 53 per cent.

The plan seeks to introduce alternative plans for sustainable financial health investment such as community and social health insurance and cost recovery scheme for community drug programmes.