Seven years since completion, local hospital in Chhedagada yet to be brought into service

A 25-bed local hospital in Jajarkot that was built at a cost of Rs50 million has become dilapidated without ever coming into operation.

Even after seven years since the construction was complete at the district’s Badawan village, in Chhedagad Municipality-5, the hospital could not be operated because of disputes in handover.

The structure was set up by former parliamentarian and social worker Rajib Bikram Shah in coordination with the Kumari Trust established in the name of his grandmother Bal Kumari.

The construction of the hospital building, which promised relief to the residents of the district’s western belt, was completed in 2015. The operation of the hospital would have meant locals would no longer have to go to Surkhet, Nepalgunj and Rukum for treatment.

The hospital building could accommodate the provision of medical services such as OPD, surgery, X-ray and maternity. It would also house a laboratory, pharmacy, doctor and nurse residence, administration offices, and toilets.

Lokendra Thapa, a local of Badawan, said that while the hospital had a promising start, since it never came into operation, the locals are still forced to go to Surkhet and Nepalgunj to get treatment even for common or seasonal diseases. “Going out for treatment to another district costs a lot of money and not everyone can afford it,” Thapa said. “If a fully facilitated hospital was in operation here, things would have been much easier.”

Shah, who initiated the construction, was elected from the Jajarkot constituency 2 under a Nepali Congress ticket at the constituent assembly elections of 2013.

He said the modality of the operation of the hospital could not be finalised after the construction was complete. A foundation called Ek Ek Paila, run by doctors, has been entrusted with the building. The foundation is currently looking for skilled manpower to run the hospital.

“Efforts are being made to provide health services in an accessible manner to the locals who are suffering from frequent epidemics including diarrhoea,” Shah said. “The hospital was supposed to be run by the government and non-government agencies by sharing operation, maintenance and service delivery responsibilities.”

Shah added that the current estimation of the operational cost of the hospital has been projected at Rs 2.5 million per month.

About 80,000 residents of Jajarkot and surrounding districts will benefit if the hospital comes into operation.

Lal Bahadur Mahtara, former mayor of Chhedagad Municipality, said that the municipality was not allowed to operate the hospital due to political biases. “I myself wanted to hand over the hospital building to the municipality and operate it as a community hospital,” said Mahtara. “But that plan never worked out.”

According to Mahtara, Shah did not agree to the proposal to form an all-party hospital management committee in order to run the hospital. Meanwhile, the building has fallen into disrepair and the municipality is operating a temporary hospital in ward 11, by paying an annual rent of Rs2.6 million.

Ratna Bahadur Khadka, mayor of the municipality, said that another hospital which is going to be built by the municipality at a cost of Rs 30 million is partially damaged. :It is necessary to bring the hospital built by Shah and the Trust into operation,” Khadka said.