Health Sector in 2080: From liver transplantation to release of medical education report

By Bunu Tharu
Kathmandu, April 13: This past year, 2080BS witnessed a noticeable achievement in organ transplantation in Nepal. Although the liver transplantation had begun seven years back, we had to depend on foreign specialists for it.

Now, Nepal could conduct liver transplantation on its strength- a 41-year-old male underwent transplantation under the leadership of surgeon Dr Ramesh Singh Bhandari at TU Teaching Hospital on January 14 (Poush 27) 2024 , thereby ending foreign dependency for critical surgery.

Similarly, an agreement the government made with the World Health Organization and the St Jude Children’s Research Institute for the availability of cancer treatment medicine. It is taken as another feat in Nepal’s health sector this past year.

As per the agreement, Nepal will receive 35 types of medicines for four years free of cost. It is said nearly 900 children are diagnosed with some form of cancer every year in Nepal, while only few can afford treatment. The doctors say the cancer cases in children are mostly of blood, eye, liver, bone and muscle.

Similarly, the government conducted screenings among 11 percent of women to identify whether they have cancer (cervical cancer). Screening of women from 30-49 age group is prioritized by the government. Though late, Paropakar Maternity Hospital launched piloting of vaccination against cervical cancer since on September 13 (Bhadra 27), 2023.

At the end of 2080BS, Minister for Education, Sumana Shrestha, made public a report of the commission on medical education, which has recommended action against 42 persons, including then TU Vice Chancellor and senior doctors and officials at Medical Council and Institute of Medicine. The report, though submitted to the government, was gathering dust for six years. It has vividly exposed the irregularities plaguing management of medical education, including conferring affiliation to medical colleges, fee, admission fee, quality etc.

The commission was formed on April 17, 2017.

The Paropakar Maternity Hospital has got a new building for expanded service. It has also begun service from there.

The mental health is increasingly being a serious health problem in Nepal. Even the teenagers are getting victims of mental health problems. As there were no such facility to treat these issues except Kanti Children Hospital at government level, the Mental Hospital in Patan launched ‘adolescent mental health unit’ bridging this gap.

Despite some significant attainments, many issues still warrant attention and engagement to realize the promises and projects in Nepal’s health sector.

Backlogs need attention

The data at Health Service Department states more than 76,000 people have been affected by fire incidents in recent time in Nepal, while many of them needed urgent treatment.

Some weeks back, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ had addressed at parliament meeting that burn units would be established at Bir Hospital, TU Teaching Hospital, and Patan Hospital to ensure timely treatment to the burn victims. However, stories of those losing lives to fire incidents are making headlines of late.

Similarly, as per WHO standard, government needs to allocate 10 percent budget in health sector to provide quality health service. In reverse, the government was able to allocate only 4.8 percent of total budget in 2080BS.

Moreover, the former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli laid foundation stones to 396 basic hospitals on November 20, 2020. It is a pressing backlog because most of these hospitals are not constructed yet.

Although the health insurance scheme is gaining pace, the regulation relating to it is waiting for amendment to ensure 10 percent discount to the insured ones while renewing the insurance facility.

The total insured population stands at 7.7 million while 4.8 are yet to renew the insurance schemes.

Expansion of immunization coverage among children is a significant need. Although the government had announced to free Nepal from measles by 2023, the measles outbreak in different districts was blight to this ambition. (RSS)

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