President Bidhya Devi Bhandari today issued an ordinance amending the existing Security of Health Workers and Health Organisations Act.

The president issued the ordinance presented by the Council of Ministers, which has garnered attention especially after the introduction of a tough law against attacks on health workers or health organisations.

The ordinance has provisioned that attacks and threats against on-duty health workers or acts of vandalism, picketing health organisations, insulting the employees of health sector, setting ablaze health facilities, and obstructing health service-seekers is a punishable crime. It has also put a ban on padlocking health organisations or organising protests on the premises of health centres.

The ordinance's crime and punishment related regulation has provisioned that setting ablaze facilities in the health sector will be liable to jail sentence of two to five years or fine amounting to Rs 200,000 to Rs 500,000 or both. Vandalising the health sector or hurting health workers and staffers of the health sector can attract jail sentence up to three years or fine of Rs 300,000 or both.

Circumambulating health organisations in a bid to stop service-seekers from going to health organisations, padlocking such organisations, intimidating and libelling health workers, and exhibiting offensive behaviour will attract fine of up to Rs 100,000 or one year jail term or both.

Nepal Medical Association had long been demanding a tough law following the dramatic rise in incidents of attacks on health workers in the country lately on the pretext of medical negligence.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 7, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.