Inexpensive medicines high on govt agenda, says health minister Thapa

Kathmandu, April 5

Health Minister Gagan Thapa said the ministry had signed agreements with a number of medical institutions in Nepal to provide basic health services through government owned hospitals in  the districts.

Government-guaranteed health services do not mean that the government has to provide the service, Thapa said talking to The Himalayan Times at his office the other day. “The government facilities across the country are short of doctors because specialists do not want to go out of Kathmandu Valley,” he said. “When they are asked to go to these ‘outposts’ they just tender their resignation.”

But Thapa said he had come up with a novel idea: forging partnership with medical institutions to provide specialists to the district hospitals. A number of agreements have been signed with government and private teaching hospitals in this regard, according to the minister. “It’s simple,” he said. “The government will provide free post-graduate programme to the residents, who will be contract-bound to work for at least five years upon completion of their course.”

That’s just one of the numerous strategic interventions that Thapa said he was making to address the demand-supply gap in the health sector. “At the moment, we are seriously exploring ways to provide inexpensive medicines to the people, which, I think, is possible if we buy supplies from manufacturers directly.” The government is also trying to regulate ambulance services and push through a medical insurance policy, the minister added. “Just that there’s some mismatch between expectations and delivery because there’s a set psychology that slows down the pace.”