Ramesh Pokhrel | Kathmandu: Sanitation is a major issue in Nepal. Incidents of deaths of mothers and infants during childbirth are rampant. All thanks to the infectious diseases. The count is as many as 380 in every one lakh.
Nepal has shown dramatic improvements in their health care services over the last few decades especially in the areas of maternal and child health.
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A comprehensive public health policy may just revolutionize the health care system in this nation. Although there is a commitment by the Government of Nepal to provide Universal Health Care, lack of funding and infrastructure to achieve those goals has led to unfulfilled promises.
The incidence of Infectious diseases is very high compared even with regional average, and disease outbreaks and epidemics are common. A decentralized system of Governmental Health System exists on paper, and even the constitution guarantees Health as a human right in Nepal. A ground check speaks a different story altogether.
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Health Sector in Nepal is mainly funded by External Agencies. Government of Nepal spends nearly six percent of its budget on health. This is highly inadequate for the growing population. With all these problems Nepal’s Health Statistics are obvious.
More than half of its children are malnourished. Forty-one percent of children under five years of age are stunted, 11 percent are wasted, and 29 percent are underweight and forty-six percent of children aged between 6-59 months are anaemic (NDHS 2011).
There is an even bigger neglect for reproductive health and women in Nepal suffer from a range of reproductive health problems. Due to a large migrant population, besides other reasons, the number of HIV/AIDS infected populations is constantly increasing.
Access to Health
Majority of Nepalese do not have access to the health facility within a span of 30 minutes from their home due to difficult topography.
Add to that extreme poverty. Nepal is one of the most impoverished nations on the planet. The health system does not help, where you have put money out of your pockets. Nearly 70% of healthcare expenses in Nepal are out of pocket (World Health Statistics 2011, World Health Organization).
Add to that chronic mismanagement. Health care professionals tend to concentrate in Kathmandu and major towns and to see a doctor is a rare sight in the villages.
Less Doctors Than Patients
The Doctor to Population ratio is very low (on an average only 2.1 Doctors per Population of 10,000), so is the Nurses and midwives to Population ratio (on an average only 4.6 Nurses and midwives per 10,000) or any Health Care Professional to Population ratio.
Medical Colleges and Health Science Institutions are concentrated in the major cities and lack the community-based approach. A substantial percentage of Doctors, Nurses and Health Care related Professionals leave Nepal for better managed and more lucrative health systems abroad.
Nepal’s government-owned drug industry is now non-functional and thus a number of Pharmaceutical companies have stepped up to fill in the gap, increasing woes to a largely poor populace.