Health facilities in Chhatreshwori Rural Municipality in Salyan are reporting a shortage of essential drugs due to supply issues.
Seven health facilities, including one primary health center, three health posts and three basic health unit centers, in the rural commune have been unable to provide effective services for the past two weeks.
More than 5,000 families in seven districts of the municipality have been affected due to the shortage of medicines in health establishments.
Dil Bahadur Pun, a 52-year-old man from Lekhpokhara in Ward No. 5, went to the primary health center on July 8 for treatment for stomach pain and diarrhoea, but had to return without no medication.
“We all go to the primary health center for free treatment and medicine, but now the health workers say there is no medicine. In my fragile state, I walked for half an hour to reach the health center but was sent home without any medicine,” Pun said. “Most of us rely on the health center for treatment of minor illnesses, but now it feels like a waste of time to come here.”
In the absence of drugs in health centers, patients have to pay money to buy drugs from private pharmacies. Health facilities do not even have medicines for fever, gastritis, blood pressure and typhoid, among others.
The government provided free medicines to patients in all public health facilities.
The Ministry of Health and Population provides more than 70 different types of drugs for communicable and non-communicable diseases to district hospitals that have at least 25 beds. Patients are entitled to receive more than 60 types of essential drugs free of charge at primary health centers and 35 types of drugs at health posts.
But according to Bimal Roka, a resident of Lekhpokhara Ward No. 5, patients have been forced to seek treatment at private clinics as public health facilities do not have medicines.
“Those who can’t afford private clinics are turning to home remedies,” he said.
Bir Bahadur Oli, head of Lekhpokhara primary health center, said 58 types of drugs are available free of charge at the center, but there has been a shortage of more than 25 types of drugs, including rehydration solution, Amlod , Typhoid and gastritis among others, for two weeks. Patients who come for treatment are now sent to pharmacies to buy medicine.
“Sometimes patients get angry when we tell them to buy medicine outside. But they don’t understand that we can’t do anything. We made repeated requests for medicine to the authorities, but there was no response,” Oli said. “If the medicine doesn’t arrive within two to four days, the patients will suffer tremendously.”
According to Ganesh Chand, head of Bhotechaur health post, it is very difficult to treat patients without the necessary drugs. During the rainy season, the number of patients suffering from fever, typhoid, diarrhea and dysentery increases, but the health post does not currently have the drugs to treat these ailments.
“Seasonal illnesses can be treated with medication, but if not treated in time, they can cause significant damage to a patient’s health,” Chand said.
Chand also complained that the local level failed to provide the necessary drugs despite repeated requests.
According to Kesridevi Bhattarai, Chhatreshwori Rural Municipality Health Officer, the local unit was unable to carry out the tender in time. “My request to purchase the necessary drugs was rejected by the rural municipality office,” Bhattarai said.
On the other hand, Pradeep Khanal, the Administrative Director of the Rural Municipality of Chhatreshwori, blames the rural municipality’s health unit for not having calculated the drug needs. Khanal says that the health unit did not inform the concerned authorities about the need to renew essential drugs in time.
“We have started the bidding process and we may be able to procure drugs in a few days. The medicines we urgently need will be brought in from outside and delivered to health facilities within a few days,” he said.