Costly option

Even as the government announced free basic heath care services to the public over a month ago, people in the rural areas, for non-availability of the services, are forced to visit private clinics and hospitals for medical treatment. Though health care services are much costlier in private clinics, people are having to shoulder heavy financial burdens, in order to get more reliable treatment. While most of the government health posts do not have the required number of doctors, they often even lack basic medicines and simple medical equipment even for the diagnosis or treatment of minor health problems.

Many of the health posts in the country, especially those in the remote areas, are run by paramedics, but in a number of cases, non-medical staff are reported to examine and treat patients. It is the duty of the state to ensure that basic health care services are available to all its citizens, at a reasonable cost if not free. Therefore, the government has to make it compulsory for fresh medical professionals to serve in far-flung health posts and in hospitals outside the capital, before they begin private practice. In addition, the government has to provide attractive perks and other career development opportunities to medical staff so that they are encouraged to serve where they are needed most. But most importantly, the government has to allocate sufficient budget for health sector reform to make sure that the ordinary people are not deprived of basic health services.