Kathmandu, January 28:

The condition of health services, especially for children, is poor in the country due to lack of adequate number of doctors and physical infrastructure.

The 300-bed Kanti Children’s Hospital (KCH) has been looking after the cases of children for half a century now.

While the number of children below 14 accounts for over 40 per cent of the total population according to the Nepal Paediatric Society, there are 250 paediatricians in the country. The doctor-child ratio is 1:36,000, which means a doctor looks after 36,000 children roughly.

People below 14 years are considered children in Nepal, which is 19 in other countries and as per the WHO standard. Dr Arjun Pant, paediatric consultant at the KCH, said the number of children comes to be 55 per cent of the total population if we consider persons below 19 as children. “On an average, a doctor spends five minutes per case which requires at least 15-20 minutes,” he said.

The government hospitals at central level are Prasuti Griha, a maternity hospital, Sukra Raj Tropical Hospital, Bir Hospital and Patan Hospital. Private hospitals, teaching hospitals of the Institute of Medical Sciences and colleges of different universities are catering to the need of increasing number of patients but Kanti hospital is the only hospital that specialises in children’s diseases.

“Children’s cases are taken care of at all hospitals but the question is how affordable and efficient is the service,” said Dr Kiran Krishna Shrestha, general secretary of the Nepal Medical Association. He said the government should expand health services.

There is a provision to appoint a paediatrician in each zonal hospital, but the posts are vacant. “We are working to expand the service at least to the regional level,” said Arjun Bahadur Singh, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population. “We will have to review overall health policies and delivery of services,” he said.