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Minister Thapa vents his anger at bureaucratic red tape

Health Minister Gagan Thapa has expressed discontent at bureaucratic red tape that has affected many of his programmes on the health sector reform. Taking to the social media on Wednesday, Minister Thapa commented that his efforts and vision to provide specialty care in each district hospital from February 12 had been delayed, what he believes, due to inconsiderate nature of the office bearers.
Minister Thapa was referring to his ambitious plan of catering speciality healthcare services in district hospitals. The ministry had collaborated with the National Academy of Health Sciences, Bir Hospital and Institute of Medicine to begin the specialty services in 13 district hospitals in Sarlahi, Dhading, Rolpa, Gorkha, Arghakhanchi, Udaypur, Dhankuta, Nawalparasi, Saptari, Mahendranagar, Dang, Nuwakot and Baglung. For all his plan to kick off the much-hyped programme, including a full-fledged emergency services, othropaedic and pediatric services from Sunday, no hospitals were able to provide the service.

According to the concept, the Kathmandu-based government hospitals will send their specialist and resident doctors to the districts and begin the services. “While we are too serious on our work, the other party who is tasked with delivering the health services must have belittled our initiative,” said Minister Thapa. “I am not bringing a populist programme that might be faced with scepticism from the bureaucracy. I am working to provide quality healthcare in each district and this is the fundamental mandate of my ministry. I am surprised officials have failed to meet my pace; either they are not willing to or they are not competent enough. “But this should stop and as a health minister I am committed to taking action against those who don’t deliver on my vision.”
To support the collaboration, the Ministry of Health has already begun a process to establish pre-fabricated operating theaters designs of which have been ready. It is set to invite bids soon. However, this is not the first time that Minister Thapa has rued on bureaucracy and how it has been creating hurdles on implementing many programmes. For instance, despite releasing over Rs500 million to procure drugs for free distribution in the districts, very few of them have purchased the medicines. In a similar statement in January 31, Thapa had said that despite earmarking enough amount, “many of the officials have been unable and unwilling to procure medicines.”
Even in a nutrition conference held in Pokhara on 13 January, where chief of public health offices across the country were summoned, Minister Thapa had warned that those officials who do not heed to his instructions will have to face dire consequences. The procurement of drugs expedited after the warning, yet the momentum slowed down. “People have every right to access quality health services and I am committed to delivering it through many innovative approaches,” said Thapa. “But without support from bureaucracy, we will reach nowhere and all our efforts might be useless.”

Manish Gautam
The Kathmandu Post
16/02/2017

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