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Editorial: Seriously ill

Editorial: Seriously ill
Open sewer lines. People, including senior citizens, women and children, waiting in long queues for their turn. Discarded materials scattered in the entrails. Stinking toilets. Poor infrastructure. An utter absence of occupational health and safety measures. A perennial lack of human resources. Most importantly, mismanagement presiding over the chaos.

Well, this is our diagnosis of two government-run hospitals—Civil Service Hospital and Bir Hospital. Let’s delve a little deeper into the matter.

The recent ApEx report titled ‘Civil Service Hospital Crowded like a fair’ points that the 112-bed hospital has been serving more than 1,000 people daily, despite a chronic lack of infrastructure and human resources required to cater to a burgeoning crowd of patients. What’s more, there’s a long list of patients awaiting surgery, for months. The hospital administration remains upbeat, nonetheless. It hopes that many of these problems will be gone once its plan to develop a 10-storey building with 1,000 beds materializes. What’s hindering the ambitious project? The government’s inability to approve a budget for the same. Our diagnosis of Bir is that the country’s oldest hospital is also gravely ill. In the course of roughly two decades, the condition of the hospital’s main building has gone worse from bad, what with taps either broken or leaking, stinking loos that are literally open with bolts of the doors gone and tap water that is murky as the report titled Bir Hospital must change itself to deliver quality services points. Add to these spectacles people holding medical reports while assisting their sick relatives to walk, senior citizens sitting on the floor (for want of chairs) or wandering aimlessly wearing confused expressions on their faces, long queues outside counters and inadequate infrastructure for wheelchair-bound patients. Worryingly, the above-mentioned points are a pointer to a systemic disease. They show that the country’s public health system is seriously ill. Per records, 32,218 MBBS and BDS doctors, and 10,080 specialist doctors are registered with the Nepal Medical Council, while 73,889 nurses and 1,326 specialized nurses are registered with the Nepal Nursing Council. Many of these professionals have left the country in search of greener pastures. Summing up, the sorry state of affairs at the two hospitals paints an alarming picture of the public health system. While the medical fraternity has a crucial role to change things for the better, the government should play a lead role to fix the system before it’s too late. The focus should be on improving public health infrastructure and curbing the outflow of human resources associated with the sector.