Poor to get free health services from mid-Jan

Kathmandu, November 8:

The government is introducing free health service in health posts and sub-health posts in all 75 districts from mid- January 2008. Poor patients who cannot afford the services will be able to avail all kind of services free of cost including the registration, full course medicines and other service charges once the programme comes into effect.

However, the emergency, OPD and indoor services in hospitals with up to 25-bed capacity and primary health centres will be provided free of cost in 35 districts only. Only emergency and indoor services will be free in the remaining 40 districts.

The government’s currently charges Rs 1 registration fee in health posts and sub-health posts, Rs 2 in primary health centres and Rs 3 in hospitals with up to 25-bed capacity. Currently, the medicines are made available at a fairer price under the community health medicine programme. However, these charges may vary in different hospitals as the Health Institution Operation Management/Coordination Committees can fix the charges as per need of the respective hospitals.

Chuda Mani Bhandari, public health administrator and member secretary of the Planning, Monitoring, Supervision and Evaluation Committee at the Department of Health Services (DoHS), said all kind of charges would be borne by government once the programme is launched. “We will directly send the budget to the each Committee based on the number of patients getting services from that particular health institution,” he said.

He also informed that the budget has already sent to district health offices for the implementation of the programme and the department has organised an orientation for chief public health officers and district chief health officers on the programme.

The government has allotted Rs 120 million for procuring drugs and supplying them to the districts. The drugs will be supplied from the regional medical stores too.

“The government has increased the budget for drugs supply and other health programmes. We have also made necessary arrangement for regular and continuous supply of drugs to all districts,” he said.

The government scheme of ‘Free Essential Health Services for Poor and Marginalized’ in hospitals was introduced in November last year. The Terai unrest impeded the implementation of the programme in the east while it is running in a few districts in the west.

With the feedback from these districts, a revision is being made in the directive guidelines on delivering the services. “After the preparing the guidelines, we will give orientation to health workers and interaction programmes with all stakeholders concerned will be organised to make the programme more effective,” Bhandari said.

What will be free?• Registration fee

• Medicines

• Service charges

• Full course of medicines

What’s already free?

• Immunisation for kids

• Supply of Vitamin A

• Contraceptives

• Anti-malaria vaccine etc