Kathmandu, Nepal: Though the government had decided to provide risk allowance to health workers serving on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been deprived of the risk allowance as one of the most revered festivals Dashain is fast approaching.
The government had initially listed the Maharajgunj-based Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital as a ‘Level-Three’ coronavirus hospital. The Hospital’s COVID-19 coordinator, Dr. Santa Kumar Das, said that the government has not provided any risk allowance to the staff so far.
“Apart from the regular salary, not a single rupee has come from anywhere for any allowance,” said Das adding, “If the government was planning on failing on its promises, it shouldn’t have made us hopeful in the very first place,” he said.
Similarly, healthcare workers of Teku-based Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Diseases Hospital also said that they had not received the promised risk allowance. Moreover, the health workers of the Hospital have not been allowed to go home for months.
According to a staffer at the Sukraraj Hospital, that they had received the risk allowance for June/July but are not sure if they will be provided with the risk allowance for the remaining period.
Meanwhile, the health workers and employees of the National Academy of Medical Sciences under Bir Hospital have not even received their regular salaries.
The employees said that they had not received their regular salaries since mid-July. “So far, I have not received any risk allowance or even food allowance. It’s been months since we even got our regular salaries,” said Khubaraj Acharya, president of the Bir Hospital Health Workers Association.
He said that he was not sure whether the employees will receive their salaries and allowances even ahead of Dashain. Stating that it is not possible to work on an empty stomach, Acharya said that they will stage a phased-agitation if their salary was not provided immediately.
Similarly, health workers at Patan Institute of Health Sciences have not received any risk allowance so far. The employees of the National Public Health Laboratory have not received risk allowance since mid-July.
The frontline health workers have demanded immediate release of COVID-19 risk allowance; COVID-19 insurance compensation; service extension allowance to be paid to doctors, health workers and employees; education allowance; salary allowance and medicine purchase expenses.
On Sunday, Nepal Health Workers Association, Nepal Nursing Association, All Nepal Progressive Public Health Workers Organization, Madhesi Health Workers Forum Nepal and All Nepal Workers Union handed over a memorandum to NAMS Vice Chancellor DN Shah demanding the same.
Officials at the hospitals said that they could not pay the allowance to health workers and staff who worked under risk because the Health Ministry had not provided the amount to the hospitals. The officials also said that staffers at the Health Ministry were getting regular risk allowance.
The government had decided to provide risk allowance to frontline healthcare workers from March 24, 2020.
According to a decision made on March 16, it was mentioned that doctors, health workers and nursing staffs who will be directly employed in laboratory, health examination and treatment of COVID-19 will be provided risk allowance of 75 percent of their starting salary and other manpower will be provided with risk allowance of 50 percent of their starting salary.
Similarly, those working to help above mentioned persons would be allocated with 25 percent risk allowance of their basic salary, as per the government’s earlier decision.