DOTI, Oct 2: Nirmala Parajuli, who was working as a staff nurse at Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Diseases Hospital in Kathmandu, was transferred to District Hospital, Doti on February 15, 2006. However, even after six years, neither has Parajuli joined duty at the hospital nor has the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) cancelled her transfer to the district hospital.
“We received a letter about Parajuli´s transfer almost immediately,” said Rup Singh Malla, an administrative staffer at Doti hospital. “But, we never got to see her face. She did not come to Doti hospital even once.”
Most of Kathmandu-based health workers, like Parajuli, always try their best not to be transferred to far-flung districts. Even if they are transferred to far-flung districts, they exploit all channels to politicians and high-level government officials to have their transfers cancelled.
However, health workers´ reluctance to join new duty stations is not limited only to capital-to-district transfers. Even those health workers who are already working in outlying districts are unwilling to work in more-remote areas. The transfer case of Sita Joshi, an auxiliary nurse midwife, says it all. Joshi, who was working at Latikoili Health Post in Surkhet, was transferred to Akhada Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC) in Doti district three years ago. But, she has not joined her new work station as yet.
Doctors, too, disregard their transfer orders. Dr Arjun Karki, who was working at Lete PHCC in Mustang district, was transferred to Doti hospital on March 3, 2010. However, like Parajuli and Joshi, Dr Karki, too, has not turned up at Doti hospital till now.
According to Malla, altogether 87 health worker´s posts, including among the district hospital staff, have been lying vacant in Doti district for a long time. Those health workers who took study leaves or temporary postings at other hospitals have never returned to Doti. To address the shortage of health workers in Doti, the MoHP has transferred many health workers to this district. But, only few of them have come here accepting transfer orders.
“Even those doctors and health workers who come here want to leave Doti as soon as possible on various pretexts,” said Malla. “Some doctors have left Doti within just one month of arriving here.” He says as many as 14 patients have died in Doti in recent times due to the lack of medical staff.
The story of Doti is just a tip of the iceberg. In fact, all the districts in the farwestern region are facing similar problems. In Bajura, Assistant Health Worker Ram Chandra Yadav has been working as acting chief of the Bajura District Hospital since Dr Jhapendra Pokharel, who was transferred to Bajura from Tanahun five months ago, has not yet reported for duty.
Dr Bikash Lamichhane, director of the Regional Health Directorate of the farwestern development region, says, “We have informed the ministry about this issue in writing many a time. However, the ministry has not responded to us.”