Hunger Striking Doctor Demands Better Healthcare In Nepal


Hunger striking doctor demands better healthcare in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 2, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 02nd Jan, 2017 ) - Dr Govinda KC spent 22 days lying on a gurney in a hospital in Nepal's capital Kathmandu, but he was not a patient. The orthopaedic surgeon was on hunger strike.

Dr KC has gone on hunger strike 10 times over the past four years in an attempt to pressure the government to improve healthcare in the impoverished Himalayan nation -- and he is sure he will have to strike again.

"The hospitals and medical institutions, they don't have proper infrastructure. They don't have adequate manpower, adequate equipment," said Dr KC from a hospital bed where he is recovering from his latest fast.

Nepal -- a country of 28 million people -- has only seven doctors, nurses and midwives, and 50 hospital beds, for every 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO recommends at least 34.5 skilled healthcare professionals per 10,000 people.

The limited health sector was further strained after the devastating 2015 earthquake, which damaged nearly a third of public clinics and hospitals.

More than 80 percent of the population live in rural areas, reliant on rudimentary state-run clinics, while hospitals are concentrated in cities -- and are mostly private.

"Private health care is linked to higher out-of-pocket payments, which leads to more people being impoverished as a result of health care," said Jos Vandelaer, country director for the WHO in Nepal.

Health Minister Gagan Thapa said that while Nepal has made improvements, reducing child and maternal mortality, healthcare remained limited -- and expensive. "You have one liver problem and you are back into poverty," he said.

Something of a medical Robin Hood, Dr KC, 60, is well known in Nepal for his philanthropic work, travelling to some of the country's most remote communities to provide medical care and train local health workers.