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Patients hurting from doctors' strike in Nepal

Publication Date : 31-07-2014


Seven-year-old Ashish Ghimire of Ramechap had a Tuesday’s appointment for the operation of his fractured right arm at the state-run Bir Hospital. For that, he was supposed to check into the hospital a day earlier, on Monday.

When the boy reached the hospital with his parents, the hospital staff told them to come back on Wednesday, for the resident doctors were on the second day of their strike demanding that the government provide better facilities and equipment for the hospital.

But Wednesday was no different. When Ashish and his parents reached the hospital, the strike was still on.

With around 300 resident doctors in protest, the hospital service is virtually down since Sunday. 

Ashish’s father, Dharma Ghimire, who was among the crowd gathered at the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, said he was planning to admit his son to a private hospital.

Like Ghimire, several other people have been affected by the ongoing protest at the country’s oldest hospital. 

Bir Bahadur Pariyar, 40, from Dang was admitted to the urology ward of the hospital on Tuesday.

He suffers from atonic bladder, a condition causing inconsistency in urine. His operation was cancelled just when the nurses were preparing to wheel him into the operation theater, he said. “The doctors are now planning for an emergency operation on Thursday.”

The strike enforced by the resident doctors at the National Academy of Medical Sciences (Nams) of Bir Hospital have caused most of the patients, put up for surgery appointments from Sunday onwards, to either reschedule or return home. 

Dr Kedar Century, director of Bir Hospital, confirmed the postponement of the operations.

“Residents are an important part of the hospital. It is hard to conduct operations without them,” said Dr Century. 

Dr Gopal Raman Sharma, neurosurgeon at the hospital, said they have been operating only emergency cases. He also urged the government to address the doctors’ demands.

“Their demands are genuine. The government has to address it without delay to resume the hospital service,” said Dr Sharma.  

With the ongoing protest, fewer patients are being admitted to the hospital.

Only six persons were admitted on Wednesday, according to a hospital employee. He said the hospital’s daily figure of admittance averaged 35 on normal days.

Many departments are turning patients away because of staff shortage.

“Residents were a vital part. They would look after patients around the clock,” he said. “Now, since we have few doctors in every departments, we do not want to risk the life of the patients.”

The doctors claim the government has ignored their demand for pbasic equipment such as MRI, CT-scan and X-ray machines at the hospital.

They said that their request to the hospital administration for fulfilling the vacancies at Nams and the hospital has also been rejected.

Meanwhile, the hospital patients and their relatives, have called on the protesting doctors to find an alternative to press their demands to the government without hampering the hospital service.

“Not everyone of us can afford to pay the fees charged by private hospitals.  Every citizen should have the right to health care. We urge the doctors to do the sensible thing,” said a patient’s relative.


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