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Editorial: Health for all

Editorial: Health for all
The Constitution of Nepal 2015 has regarded the right to health as one of the fundamental rights of the Nepalis. Article 35 (1) of the constitution states that every citizen shall have the “right to free basic health services from the State, and no one shall be deprived of emergency health services”, Article 35 (3) stipulates every citizen’s equal access to health services whereas Article 35 (4) envisions access to clean drinking water and sanitation. These great legal provisions notwithstanding, the right to health remains on paper for most of the Nepalis.

This daily has published a series of investigative reports detailing a sorry state of affairs at government hospitals. Whether it’s Civil Service Hospital, Bir Hospital or Maternity Hospital, all have been suffering from serious illnesses like the lack of human resources, cleanliness and other occupational safety and health measures, equipment, budget and infrastructure, to name a few.

Despite such a state of affairs, these facilities are bursting at their seams, with service-seekers waiting in serpentine queues daily for treatment, not to mention thousands of others, who wait for months on end for surgeries. Apparently, these public health facilities, which form the backbone of a public health delivery system, pose a serious threat to public health, especially in the times of a pandemic. Who is mainly to blame for the ills plaguing the public health delivery system? Governments in deep slumber, over a prolonged period of time. Governments that come and go in this instability-plagued country in quick succession have no time and energy to treat these diseases. Why would they pull up their sleeves and dirty their hands anyway? After all, whenever the ruling elites or their kith and kin fall ill, they can avail themselves of medical treatment abroad, with the state always ready to foot their medical bill. Over the years, a number of VIPs and VVIPs have availed themselves of services available at state-of-the-art medical facilities abroad, while lakhs of commoners continue to wait for their turn at ill-managed health facilities, bearing with the pungent smell and other associated difficulties. Sadly, a large number of people cannot even make it to these medical facilities as people begging on our streets for medical treatment of their own or their near and dear ones show. The onus is on the government to take urgent measures to fix our health system and work toward health and well-being, not only of VVIPs and VIPs but also of the commoners.