Health services have been greatly affected in several districts of Sudurpaschim Province due to a lack of health employees.
Health institutions across the province face a shortage of work force. Officials concerned complained that posts ranging from junior health workers to specialist doctors remain vacant despite repeated request to the authorities to fill the posts.
Seti Zonal Hospital in Dhangadhi– the district headquarters of Kailali– has just 10 specialist doctors out of 21 posts. According to Dilip Shrestha, information officer at the hospital, cardiologists and psychiatrists have not been posted to the institution since its establishment. He said posts of 11 specialist doctors including cardiologist, psychiatrist gynecologist, pediatrician and general physician are vacant.
“Ten specialist doctors were recently posted to the hospital. A few months ago, the hospital used to have only four or five doctors,” said Shrestha.
He said that nine posts of staff nurse are also vacant in the hospital.
Various health surveys showed that the number of heart patients is increasing in the region, but the government has been unable to post a single cardiologist in the province so far.
The situation of Mahakali Zonal Hospital in Mahendranagar is also the same. Out of 19 posts for specialist doctors, the hospital has only two.
“The shortage of health workers has affected our services. We don’t know how long the posts will remain vacant,” said Narad Bhatta, medical recorder at the hospital.
Health institutions in remote parts of hill districts in the province are also reeling under the shortage of auxiliary nursing mid-wives and auxiliary health workers as well as essential medicines. According to the Provincial Health Directorate, Kotela and Sharmali health posts in Baitadi district are completely without health workers.
Dr Gunaraj Awasthi, chief at the Provincial Health Directorate, said the recent transfer of the health employees by the Department of Health Services has added to the woes of understaffed health facilities in the province.
“More than 80 percent health employees posted in Sudurpaschim were from outside the province. After most of them accepted the transfer to be close to their hometown, the posts they vacated have not been filled,” said Dr Awasthi.
The shortage of health workers has affected the health services and the vaccination programme in all nine districts of the province.
Local health authorities said their repeated requests to the Centre to fill the vacancies have not been heard.
Out of 59 posts for health employees in the province, 29 are vacant.