Last week Kali Bahadur Rawat, a local of Tatopani VDC in Jumla district visited nearby sub-health post when he suffered from fever. But he received no help there. He had hoped that he would receive a free check-up and medicine, but in vain.
“With the excuse of having no medicine, health workers stay away from the health facility,” Rawat said.
Another local, Dhankala Karki, has a similar story to share. After suffering from asthma and cough, she visited a health post. However, the trip was not fruitful.
Many local folks in Karnali like Rawat and Karki are being deprived of free medicines at the local health facilities.
It is worrisome that during winter, when many people suffer from cough, cold, asthma, pneumonia and fever, free medicines provided by the government have not been delivered to the health facilities in Karnali.
An average of 50 to 60 patients suffering from asthma, pneumonia and cough visit the sub-health post at Tatopani on a daily basis, according to Auxiliary Nurse Midwife Malati Mahat.
“But we cannot treat them due to the lack of medicines,” she said. “We have already requested District Health Office to provide us the medicines but they have yet to respond.”
The lack of medicines at local government health facilities has put the people in huge trouble. Even for the treatment of minor health problems and basic medicines, the locals head to private health clinics and the district headquarters.
District Health Office (DHO) of Jumla has been without its chief for a long time. This has also led to the delay in the delivery of medicines.
As the Ministry of Health had released the budget for medicines much late, the drugs could not be delivered to the district on time, according to Prakash Shah, a medical officer at Health Office of Dolla.
Every year, the government provides the district health office the budget ranging from Rs 1.2 million to 1.4 million. “After we recently received Rs 1.4 m, we have started the process for procuring additional 71 types of medicines,” Shah said. “Till date, we have been using old medicines.” Goods of daily needs as well as medicines are generally transported to the Karnali region through flights. However, both in the winter and rainy seasons, there are no regular flights, according to medical officer Shah. “We hope to get the medicines supplied to Jumla district earliest as possible,” Shah added.
In Humla, the DHO has already brought medicines for the district from the regional medical store. Although the DHO Humla claims that local health facilities have been provided the medicines, however, local folks in the remote villages refute their claim. Meanwhile, Chief District Office (CDO) Dipendra Raj Poudel of Jumla informed that locals have made complaints about the absence of health workers and the shortage of medicine at the health facilities in villages.
“Keeping in mind such a dire situation, I have already instructed the DHO to address the problems of local folks immediately and also asked them to regularly monitor the local health facilities,” CDO Poudel said.