Health in Nepal: «The country is moving in the right direction»
Following decentralisation of the government system, new regional government representatives are taking responsibility for implementing state programmes – including the national health programme. However, according to FAIRMED Country Coordinator Nirmala Sharma, they often lack the necessary experience.
«For the local authorities, health often means nothing more than simple medical treatment in hospitals. They are only faced with the issue when someone falls ill. But health is about far more than that», explains Sharma. The government has therefore developed a two-day programme offering health officials a crash course on the topic of health. FAIRMED is involved in its development and implementation.
Vicious circle of poverty and illness
But this is only a first step on the road to a properly functioning health system. The poor quality of public hospitals is still a major problem, especially for poor populations. The well-functioning private health sector with hundreds of practices certainly provides good health services, according to Nirmala Sharma, but it is too expensive for the poor. Treatment in a private clinic often goes hand in hand with the sale of their own land, says Sharma, creating the typical vicious circle of poverty and illness.
Despite these obstacles however, overall the FAIRMED coordinator believes that Nepal «is moving in the right direction». In particular, she feels positive about decentralised regional healthcare. In future it will be possible for everyone in Nepal to reach a hospital within a reasonable amount of time.