The National Trauma Center, which came into operation some two months ago, is likely to shut down, thanks to apathy on the part of the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP).
The 200-bed super-specialty facility was handed over by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 25, 2014 with much hype.
Indian Prime Minister Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala had jointly inaugurated the building constructed at a cost of approximately 1.5 billion Indian rupees some six years ago.
The Trauma Centre administration informed that out of 29 staffers including doctors sent there on deputation by MoHP, 12 have returned to their respective hospitals. “The remaining are also returning as their deputation periods are nearing completion,” said Director at the Center, Dr Ashok Bajracharya. He informed that MoHP had sent the staffers on deputation for three months and some others for six months.
According to Dr Bajracharya, out of four doctors sent on deputation by MoHP, two have already gone back. Nurosurgeon Dr Dhurba Adhikari and radiologist Dr Saroj Rijal have returned to Bir Hospital after completing their three-month deputations. The deputation letter of anesthetist Roshan Rana has arrived at the center but Rana did not come.
Likewise, two lab technologists, a lab assistant, a radiographer, two staff nurses and an administrative staffer have also gone back after completing their tenures. Dr Bajracharya said that some staffers who were deployed from Bir Hospital remain absent most of the time.
Moreover, MoHP has not yet bothered to allocate a budget for the center. Director Dr Bajracharya informed that MoHP had allocated Rs 10 million at the time of the inauguration. “What to do with Rs 10 million when we have to pay over six million just for the electricity,” he asked. “Every day we are compelled to turn back patients without any treatment.”
Nara Devi Bariya, matron at the center, said that advanced equipment such as digital X-Ray and CT-scan is breaking down as they have not been used. “They need to be operated every day to keep them functional,” she said. She added that the center does not have the budget to buy film for the X-Ray and CT-Scan and all the sample pieces provided by the Indian government have already been used up. Likewise, the center also lacks reagents for the laboratory. The Indian government has installed the latest technology at the center.
Instead of providing a budget to run the center, MoHP endorsed the decision of the cabinet to hand over the center to Bir Hospital. Dr Bajracharya has challenged the decision at the Supreme Court, which has issued an interim order. The case is still under judicial consideration.
Meanwhile, Acting Secretary at MoHP Kedar Bahadur Adhiukari said that the budget allocation for the trauma center has been delayed because of the decision to bring it under Bir Hospital. He also said that Bir has the resources to make full use of the trauma center.
The eight-storey trauma building had gathered dust for over six year as the government was unable to bring it into operation. The center is a vital facility as it is the only one of its kind in the country. If run at full capacity, the facility is capable of providing complex, multi-disciplinary treatment, including neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery, in order to give trauma victims the best chances of survival and recovery. Trauma is the third most common cause of death and fourth most common cause of physical disability. Each year hundreds of patients die in trauma-related cases.