How has Nepal‘s healthcare industry evolved over the years?
In the past, Nepal had its own indigenous system of medicine. As it adopted Western medicine and allopathic solutions, Nepal has migrated to a more efficient and modern health care system.
The last five decades have seen a significant rise in the number of hospitals and dispensaries in Nepal, with growing opportunities for both non-governmental and private organisations to enter the healthcare sector.
Today, Nepal has multidisciplinary and multispecialty hospitals that cater to all kinds of patients and diseases. There are hospitals that are equipped with world-class infrastructure, equipment and technology, along with teams of highly-talented and trained doctors who can perform surgeries that range from renal transplants to hip and knee replacements. Grande International Hospital is a good example of the evolution of healthcare in Nepal with 35 specialties along with a team of world-class doctors and support staff backed by state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
The status of healthcare in Nepal is rapidly developing. The private sector is on the rise striving to offer high-quality complex treatments at affordable costs. As Nepal incorporates better and evolved medical technology and training at lower costs of service, it is beginning to open the door for medical tourism.
How do you compare the private healthcare industry with the public one?
The government runs a uniform healthcare programme that is intended to reach the masses. As far as the private sector is concerned, it complements the already existing public service with even more advanced and sophisticated care facilities. Much needed public health programmes such as health education, vaccinations and maternal health, among others are taken care of by the government reaching all 75 districts. This has created a structure for healthcare as well as for the medical education of doctors, nurses and technicians. The government‘s role in healthcare is central and cannot be undermined. However, once the primary and secondary needs â€”such as primary healthcare facilities, medical education and training â€” are fulfilled, our attention must turn to illnesses that are equally severe and complicated and that require a multidisciplinary approach founded on high-end resources, whether it is complex medicines, sophisticated experience and knowledge, or consumables. This is where the private sector comes in. The mushrooming of private healthcare institutions throughout the country is in response to the needs of the people. The private sector is hence capitalising, out of necessity, on a platform that the government has created. The public and private sectors are hence complementary to each other, and subsequently synergistic.
Huge investments from the corporate world have been venturing into the healthcare sector. What value addition has this created?
If anything, this has given the healthcare sector a much-required boost in terms of providing state-of-the-art facilities. Understandably, any hospital that incorporates high-end equipment and infrastructure into its system will also bear huge costs. Nepali entrepreneurs have ventured into diverse businesses and projects throughout the world, returning not only with significant wealth but also with a global outlook and expertise to build world-class infrastructure in the healthcare sector. Health professionals are similarly driven by their zeal to help the Nepali population and beyond, capitalising on this social and economic opportunity to create medical services that accommodate and, indeed, exceed the needs of the country. Such investments are intended and motivated by a desire to give back to community, even if they may appear as commercial ventures at first sight.
Despite healthcare development in Nepal, millions of rupees still flow out of the country for treatments overseas. What do you make of this trend?
Nepali healthcare has not reached its maximum potential and there are certainly some conditions that we simply cannot offer treatment for. Furthermore, there are better and newer methods of treatment being offered in developed countries. If someone must travel abroad for better healthcare, then they will. This is why medical tourism is still so prominent from Nepal.
How do you view the future of the private healthcare industry?
Both, government and private, community or non-governmental and cooperative hospitals have been established in most major urban settlements in Nepal, and their primary intention is to provide health services to the general public.
There are 301 private hospitals in Nepal, among which 67 are located in the Kathmandu Valley, compared to 123 government hospitals under the Ministry of Health and Population, demonstrating a vast gap between private and government hospitals. Hence the private healthcare industry has a prominent role in contributing to the healthcare in Nepal, and to the healthcare economy.
Inpatient medical activities at private hospitals are chiefly directed and carried out under the direct supervision of medical doctors and include services of medical and paramedical staff, laboratory services and technical facilities, radiology and anesthesiology, emergency room services, surgical procedures and concomitant infrastructure, pharmaceutical services, and family planning centers, among others.
Health is a need, and that is that. There are increasingly new methods of identifying and treating disease, more and more techniques for surgery. There are new gadgets, newer knowledge, better technology, and better talent. The private healthcare industry has to constantly update itself with global healthcare trends and practices in order to improve its services for the Nepali population. More and more doctors and scientists need to be trained in the best medical schools. The future is evolving, and so is the private sector. It continues to bring in new treatment, techniques and talent.