EDITORIAL: Basic health care

With the monsoon going on, various seasonal diseases have increased such as viral fever, common cold and typhoid

In most parts of Nepal and for most of the population, medical services are difficult to get for various reasons, such as the lack of proper medical facilities nearby or the lack of financial means to pay the bills.

In Nepal the most basic of ailments kill many people every year, for example diarrhea which only needs some basic precautions and relatively inexpensive medication to treat.

In such a situation, most of those who suffer from many other diseases which are chronic or so acute that they require highly specialized medical services and involve a lot of expenses have to pray and suffer.

Seasonal diseases kill many people across the country per year; in the winter certain diseases strike more often whereas in the summer and rainy season many more diseases take toll of human lives.

Most deaths happen because of the lack of proper precautions or of early treatment or treatment itself. With the monsoon now going on, various seasonal diseases have increased in their frequency, such as viral fever, common cold and typhoid.

The more remote the places are the greater is the frequency of the diseases. And naturally, the human toll is heavier there.

But there are many areas in the country, particularly in the remote districts, where because of the lack of the most basic services, such as birthing and post-natal services, women suffer many complications, whose scars will remain for a long time to come or throughout the rest of their lives, or some of them even die from those complications.

Bajura is one such district which makes the news from time to time for the suffering of its people due to the lack of even the most basic medical facilities or services or of food grain.

Even seemingly minor medical complications, for example during labour, may turn into major ones threatening the lives of patients. No doubt, over the years, some progress has been made in providing basic medical services to the people in various remote areas, reducing the maternal and infant mortality rates.

That should be taken positively.

But this falls far short of the medical needs of the far-flung Nepali people. In the first place, many areas, particularly remote ones, lack even basic medical services within convenient distances, where transport is non-existent or very difficult, thus making it hard for the patients to be taken to the medical centres in time.

Medical services are such diverse fields with diverse specialties, numerous kinds of equipment and tests, and various kinds of para-medical staff, and the availability of the various kinds of medicines that small health posts or centres lack not only most of these things but they even lack most basic medicines like paracetamol from time to time, as media reports inform the public.

The government has made a policy of providing basic health services to all the people of the country at affordable cost.

Though this policy is laudable, its implementation has been rather poor, partly because of genuine factors and partly because of the indifference and inefficiency of the related government agencies and officials and other technical and non-technical employees.

Efforts need to be redoubled in order to ensure that all have access to at least basic health care, and preferably to treatment of other diseases as well.

Monitor safety

After two young students were killed when a wall collapsed onto a school building in Lalitpur and injuring 25 other students on July 1 there is increasing concern about the school buildings being made without meeting the criteria.

A wall built fell on the adjacent school building. The wall was not built up to the mark and without permission from the authorities.

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes of last year many school buildings collapsed because they did not meet the necessary criteria.

After the tragic incident of July 1 the District Education Office (DEO) of Lalitpur has started to monitor the manner in which school buildings have been built.

It is up to the DEOs throughout the country to see to it that the school buildings are constructed properly to make them earthquake resistant too.

It is learnt that the school in Lalitpur did not have the permission to build the prefab classrooms. This calls for close monitoring when the school buildings are being constructed.

Most school buildings do not meet the safety standards that have been set.

Clearly, the reason for many school buildings collapsing is because they have failed to meet the building code.