Drug deficit

Though the government announced free essential medical services through its 675 health- and 3,127 sub-health posts around the country beginning January 15, even the medical centres inside Kathmandu Valley are facing an acute shortage of important medicines. Places like Lokanthali, Sirutar, Dadhikot and Chaling in Bhaktapur and Sainbu in Lalitpur have yet to receive their quota of the government-sanctioned 32 different medications for health posts and 22 medications for sub-health posts.

The government had earlier in the year announced that patient registration, preventive and basic medication, minor dressing and maternity medication would be availed from healthcare centres free of cost. Rs. 210 million was set aside for the same purpose. The idea of providing free healthcare services through government-run medical centres was indeed great as the majority of the patients visiting these centres are dirt poor, many of whom are unable to cover even minimal costs. Free service will undoubtedly prompt more poor folks to

seek medical treatment. Yet plans and pledges alone will not be enough to alleviate their suffering — as is being witnessed by the shortage of essential medicines in healthcare facilities. The government has reportedly called for a fresh tender for the procurement of essential medication. But the tender and bidding processes were supposed to be completed long before the Jan. 15 deadline. This is a classic case of good plan gone awry.