Nepal | April 06, 2020

EDITORIAL: New lease of life

The Himalayan Times

It is good to see the revival of the NDL, a state enterprise, though some of its medicines were popular

The state-owned enterprise Nepal Drugs Ltd (NDL) has resumed production after a hiatus of nearly a decade.

The NDL had stopped production for various reasons, apart from the poor and faulty management, for the medicines produced by it had failed to abide by the Good Manufacturing Practices of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The NDL started to produce the famed Jeevan Jal from Sunday. The NDL was established in 1972 and in its heyday it produced 120 types of medicines many of them classified as essential. It had set the goal to provide advanced medicines too. However, it has not been in operation since 2008.

The NDL is to receive Rs. 146.5 million as credit so that it could start operating again by producing medicines that would meet the standards set by WHO. So far, the government has provided NDL with Rs. 64.8 million.

As of now, apart from the life saving Jeevan Jal, the NDL would also be producing paracetamol tablets and some other medicines that do not belong to the non-penicillin group within a period of three months after procuring the necessary equipment whose process is in the last phase.

NDL has set the objective of producing 15 different types of drugs in the second phase. These drugs would include capsules, penicillin and various ointments. It would also produce saline and haemodialysis fluid. This would be done after the establishment of an intravenous fluid section.

The medicines produced by the NDL should be available at all health centres, including rural health posts. Many of these posts lack even basic essential medicines like paracetamol. Some medicines are supposed to be made available free of cost, but the patients are compelled to buy them from private pharmacies which charge more for these drugs as the health posts lack them.

NDL is all set to produce about 70 types of drugs that the government is distributing to the people through the public health posts throughout the country.

The NDL needs to produce the medicines, particularly those that are essential, so that the country would be self-sufficient in them and would not have to rely on imports as is the case now.

The medicines that are produced by the NDL need to be relatively affordable as the imported medicines tend to be expensive. Preferably the medicines should be provided for free to those who cannot buy them.

By producing the required medicines meeting the standards and making them available to the needy would help save the lives of many and would make treatment of the various ailments possible. If managed properly there is a huge scope for NDL.

The government cannot keep providing subsidy to NDL and it should be able to cover its costs and earn something more to keep it going in the long term.

The government should see to it that the factors that had contributed to the closure of NDL should not be present again, such as political interference, over-staffing, lack of performance-based evaluation of employees, particularly of those in managerial positions, the failure to appoint the top executive and board of directors based on their qualifications and track record and on a contract to exact accountability from them An effective system should be put in place to check corruption and leakage.

The NDL should be run on commercial principles. It is good to see the revival of the NDL, a state enterprise which had been widely regarded as a white elephant, though some of its medicines were popular.

Take care of them

Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong handed over the solar lights installed on roadsides of the Lake City of Pokhara-Lekhanath Metropolis amidst a function on Sunday.

As many as 1,000 solar lamps were built on the roadsides with Chinese government’s assistance. These street lights were built under the Street Solar Light Project from Bijaypur to Hallanchowk at the cost of Rs. 15 crore. Local community also extended support to the projectt.

The government has given special emphasis to installing solar-powered lights in the streets of all municipalities across the country. The government agencies have a tendency of not taking care of any project built under foreign assistance.

If proper care is not taken the solar lights will cease to glow and millions of rupees spent on it will just go into waste. New elected leaders of all cities must take care of the public property along with a sustainable plan.

A version of this article appears in print on May 09, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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