Nepal | September 24, 2020

Health rights a far cry sans regulations

Sabitri Dhakal
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It hasn’t been possible to implement the Health Act

Kathmandu, September 7

Although the Parliament endorsed the Public Health Service Act 2018, regulations related to the act are yet to be formulated. Delay in formulating regulations has created confusion regarding standards and provisions mentioned in the act.

“We haven’t been able to implement the rights mentioned in the act as we don’t have regulations,” said Bhogendra Dotel, director, Management Division, Department of Health Services.

Basic health service means free diagnostic, remedial and rehabilitative services available from the state. “We haven’t been able to provide basic health services. We are only providing free medicines,” Dotel added.

The act says every health institution shall provide emergency health services. “There are various emergency health care services, but there is no clarity on the kind of emergency services to be provided,” said Dotel.

As per the act, if complication arises in the health of any service recipient in the course of treatment or if s/he doubts the
process of treatment, s/he may file a complaint with the authority concerned against the health worker or institution involved in the treatment. But this too is not possible without regulation, said Dotel.

If it’s not possible to provide further treatment at a health institution due to limited resources or  lack of specialist service, the institution can refer the patient  to another health institution. However, as regulation has not been formulated in this regard, referral is also not possible.

The federal, province and local levels shall, in order to implement this Act, arrange human  resources, technology and  equipment in institutions on  the  basis of necessity after establishing health  institutions that  have fulfilled the prescribed standards. But no standard has been prescribed yet.

The process and standards to be fulfilled while providing mobile health camp shall be as prescribed by the provincial government. But this has not been done for want of regulations.

The act also speaks of a rapid response team and emergency  physicians’ group to extend  health service during emergencies. But this too is not possible as there are no regulations.

The local bodies do not need to wait for the central government for regulations. They can make their own, but it has not happened, said activist Sabin Shrestha.

The act says if an infectious disease breaks out at any place, it shall be the duty of the person concerned to provide the health institutions or public health officials information. But without regulation this too is not possible to implement.

Information about the spread of diseases has not been provided, due to which timely intervention in terms of prevention and treatment has been delayed, said Bibek Kumar Lal, director EDCD. If regulations are made, there will be monitoring and enactment, said Lal.

A version of this article appears in print on September 08, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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