Thu, 20 Jun, 2019

Private Hospitals to Reserve 10 percent Beds For the Needy

By Aakankshya Shrestha

Photo Source: Ministry of Health and Population
The government and private hospitals have come to an agreement to provide 10 percent of hospital beds without any cost to the poor and needy. According to the plan, private hospitals should tag 10 percent of their beds as ‘free bed’ and list the name of free service patients on their respective notice boards. According to Health Minister Gagan Thapa, in private hospitals, the physicians' fees, laboratory fees, bed charges, nursing and hospital diagnostic fees and oxygen costs will be provided free of cost to the needy patients. However, costly surgeries and medicines will not be included in the scheme. Along with this, the Good Governance Act has provisioned that 10 percent of hospital facilities be set aside for the treatment of the poor and needy free of cost. The bodies that decide whether a patient is poor and helpless are MoH, Bir hospital, village development committees, municipalities, district development committees, district administration offices, and district health service offices. It is still not clear on what basis they are going to categorize the people into rich and poor which can be a huge problem in implementing the plan. The government had already implemented a provision of free treatment at state-owned health centers and hospitals. Though, in most cases, the quotas for the needy at public hospitals have been misused by people close to the political leaders and bureaucrats. In Kailali district, even after seven months of the implementation of Health Insurance Program, the needy people have not yet been able to get the benefits that were meant for them due to the negligence on the part of the Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Ministry. According to the manager of the Social Health Security Development Committee, Kailali, Kapil Dev Acharya, under the insurance program, the extremely poor are to be insured for free, medium poor families to be insured at 75 percent discount and those at risk of poverty at 50 percent discount. The ministry had failed to provide identity card to the poor, extremely poor, and people at risk of poverty, making it impossible to include the needy people on the insurance. The data at the Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Ministry show that 29.352 percent of people are under the poverty line in the district. For the current plan, the government is all set to take necessary actions to make the plan effective. Minister Thapa said that the government would take necessary action to implement the provisions of the law even if this means amending the rules and stricter monitoring. “At the present time, the private health institutions have shown commitment to implementing the rules,” he added. In our neighboring country India, the government had launched a new health insurance scheme earlier this year to provide for families below the poverty line. This new scheme offers a health cover of up to Rs. 1 lakh per family and for senior citizens in the age group of 60 years and above additional Rs. 30,000 will be available. In our case, a fixed amount hasn’t been declared. An earlier scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana is already in implementation which provides health insurance coverage to below poverty line families that cover up to Rs. 30,000 for most diseases. Similarly, Sri Lanka has been providing free universal health care with the joint effort of the government and private sectors. It is one of the few countries in the world with free health care. The success of the recent plan for Nepal depends on the joint effort of the government and private sectors. It is an optimistic initiative taken by the government towards the path of improving the citizen’s health. By proving free medical treatment to the poor and needy, people will be more willing to seek professional medical treatment and not rely on superstitious treatment of dhamis and jhakris.