Medical specialist crunch throws health care in disarray

BAJURA: Two-year-old Bhuwan Khadka of Kanchanpur was taken to Mahakali Zonal Hospital in Far Western Province for treatment of chronic pneumonia but was referred to Dhangadi based hospital for lack of specialist doctors in the facility.

Similarly, Raju Nepali who was admitted to the zonal hospital for a minor operation was also told to seek treatment elsewhere.

Not only Nepali and Khadka but scores of other patients in the region are impelled to travel to Dhangadi, Nepalgunj and cross border cities in India to avail health care services because of a severe crunch of medical specialists in Mahakali Zonal Hospital.

As per hospital records, as many as 309 patients were referred to other medical facilities in just over three months for lack of specialists.

“Only if there were medical specialists in the hospital, those patients wouldn’t have to go through such hassles to acquire health services,” Information Officer at the hospital, Keshav Dutta Joshi said.

Although the hospital has 21 medical positions for specialist doctors, 18 remain vacant. Moreover, the posts of medical technologist and senior nursing officer have remained unfilled since the hospital began operations decades ago.

As there are no doctors to carry out minor and major operations, the beds in the surgical wards have gathered dust for long.

“There is no point in managing the beds unless the hospital carries out operations regularly,” Indoor In-charge Kaushila Rana said. “No one bats an eye to condition of beds as there are no patients to occupy them.”

“Hospitals based at cross border cities of India use local newspapers, radio and cable TV to position their brands and services and have gained public trust of locals over the years,” Civil Society, Kanchanpur Secretary Niranjan Bhat said. “On the other hand, instances of verbal and physical assault against working doctors at the hospital have barred specialists from taking a job here.”

The hospital that was upgraded to a zonal medical facility around 30 years ago has 100 beds but only three medical specialists.

(Translated/Edited By Prahlad Rijal)