The election of Nepal Medical Association (NMA) is scheduled for Feb 2-4 in Kathmandu. Dr Santosh Paudel, senior consultant at Bir Hospital, is one of the presidential candidates in the election. Slesha Adhikari from ApEx talked to Dr Paudel to know his agenda.
‘Safe profession and happy doctor’ is your motto. What does this mean?
Currently in Nepal, conflicts and violence are rising at hospitals. A lot of doctors don’t feel safe at the workplace. Many doctors are without a job. Even those who hold a job have job security issues. They don’t know when they will be fired. Moreover, doctors are not getting a salary befitting their work. Basically, doctors serve in two ways: By helping people recover from physical illnesses or by helping people overcome different mental disorders.
But doctors themselves get no peace at their workplace and their happiness is also compromised. In light of this situation, we have adopted this slogan, ‘Safe profession and happy doctor’ to highlight the importance of mental well-being of doctors and the importance of them having a secure job.
What new things can the Nepal Medical Association do under your leadership?
Past leadership failed to keep even minor promises. We look at how doctors have still not been given minimum salary. We have floated different agendas on fixation of minimum working hours and a routine that allows doctors a break for their physical and mental health.
It is said that doctors have not been paid for 4-5 months. What will you do to address this?
We’ve seen even reputed hospitals and medical colleges default on salary payment for doctors. We will raise this issue in the election. The management of these institutions is investing in other fields instead of paying the doctors. Many doctors do not want to speak up because of fear of losing their jobs. NMA is committed to speaking up for doctors and stamping out corruption in these institutions.
On one hand, young doctors are unemployed. On the other, the state says there is an acute shortage of doctors. Why did this happen?
Let’s have a look into a doctor’s daily routine. S/he wakes up early in the morning, visits the clinic to attend to patients and then rushes to a couple of hospitals for providing services. Doctors remain busy throughout their lives. They have to follow a hectic schedule for a decent living. That’s why we have thought of introducing arrangements that allow doctors to work in an institution under a fixed working schedule—from 8 am to 3 pm. After 3 pm, they can conduct extra checkups for patients, if possible. Our slogan—‘one doctor, one clinic’—can address the problem of unemployment facing doctors to some extent, improve individual hospitals’ progress and improve healthcare in Nepal.
There seems to be a communication gap/misunderstanding between doctors and people. What is its cause and solution?
NMA is working to improve relations between doctors and citizens. There’s some communication gap between the two parties. Some doctors lack communication and social skills, although they might be excellent professionally. NMA is working to impart to doctors soft skills like basic communication, presentation skills and knowledge about medical issues. NMA is conducting research and training programs for doctors to keep them updated. This helps in minimizing the communication gap between doctors and citizens. Mediums of communication like social media also help in a huge way.