Satya Devi Shahi, 34, from Soru Rural Municipality in Mugu went to the district hospital two weeks ago with complaints of fever, headache and vomiting. She walked all day to the hospital for treatment, but did not receive any free medicine provided by the government.
“A doctor examined me and prescribed me medication. He asked me to buy them from a private pharmacy, stating that the hospital had no more stock of drugs, ”Satya Devi said. “I must have spent around 4,000 rupees to buy the drugs because the hospital didn’t even have essential drugs to be given to patients free of charge. ”
With the onset of winter, the number of patients suffering from fever, typhoid, asthma, colds, diarrhea and vomiting is increasing in the mountain district. But the district hospital, which sees around 70 patients a day, lacks essential drugs for patients.
“We ran out of drugs two months ago. We are examining the patients but cannot provide them with the drugs, ”Dr Nahakul Shahi told the hospital. “We asked patients to buy drugs from local pharmacies. ”
According to him, the hospital is also facing a shortage of rehydration solution, injections of paracetamol, ampicillin, aciloc, asthalin, brufen, cetirizine and Metrozen among other drugs.
“The drugs purchased during the current fiscal year have all been used up,” he said. “We are receiving more patients than usual in a context of falling temperatures, but patients have to come home empty-handed because the hospital does not have essential drugs. “
According to Gyan Singh Budha, head of the district health office, efforts are underway to bring medicine to the hospital from the Surkhet regional medical store.
“In the current fiscal year, 1.8 million rupees has been allocated to purchase medicines, but the purchasing process has been delayed due to the frequent change of office manager,” Budha said. Budha himself was transferred to the Mugu district health office as chief about two months ago.
Not only the district hospital, but the 58 health facilities in Mugu, a remote district of Karnali province, are facing a shortage of essential medicines. Health workers across the district said patients had stopped going to health posts and primary health centers because those centers did not provide free medicine.
“When we go to government-run health posts, health workers tell us that they have no medicine,” said Dil Bahadur Budha from Sorukot Rural Municipality. “For this reason, we are forced to visit private clinics in Sorukot and Balukuna.”
There are a total of 16 health posts in the rural municipality of Sorukot and all of them have faced a shortage of medicines for the past few months.
The Ministry of Health and Population supplies more than 70 different types of drugs for communicable and non-communicable diseases to district hospitals with at least 25 beds. Patients have the right to receive more than 60 essential drugs free of charge at primary health centers and 35 types of drugs at health posts.
Likewise, health posts, primary health centers and public hospitals in Dailekh, a district relatively accessible from the provincial headquarters of Karnali, also operate without essential drugs.
The Tolijaisi health post in Thatikandh rural municipality in Dailekh ran out of essential drugs three months ago. Villagers have no choice but to go to private clinics and buy medicine from local pharmacies.
“We don’t even have drugs like ketamol, metronidazole and rehydration solution at the health post. We have to send patients to private pharmacies to buy drugs. Most patients have stopped coming to the health post, which could be dangerous as they could fall back on home remedies to treat illnesses or worse, leave them untreated, ”said Basanta Prasad Sanjyal, head of the post. health.
Other health facilities in Dailekh are facing similar hardships. The district health office admits that most health facilities in Dailekh are suffering from a shortage of drugs.
“The provincial government has allocated only 1.5 million rupees for the purchase of drugs in the current fiscal year. How can we provide drugs to 103 health facilities in the district with this amount? Even the district hospital does not have enough medicine, ”said Thir Prasad Regmi, head of the district health office.
(Jyotee Katuwal contributed reporting from Dailekh.)