UNI affiliate, the Union of Private Hospital and Health Care Workers in Nepal (UNIPHIN), energised by its Breaking Through Award during the recent UNI World Congress held in Philadelphia, is breaking new ground again in Nepal’s health sector with its first Social Dialogue held at the Hotel Yellow Pagoda, Jamal, Nepal on 2nd October.
Under the banner of “Safe and Dignified Health Sector: Working Together”, the Nepalese union’s pioneering initiative brought together health workers, employers and government officials for an engaging and constructive discussion and generating potential solutions and opportunities for collaboration among stakeholders.
The President of UNIPHIN, Mr Prithivi Thapaliya, opening for the forum, said, “Up to today, the sector stakeholders seldom dialogue with one another, but rather, blame each other for the problems. UNIPHIN aims to change that narrative. Through this Social Dialogue, we want to work together to rise together in the healthcare sector of the country.”
The productive forum achieved the important aim of enabling the constructive airing of the challenges faced by healthcare workers in the sector. These include ensuring the use of employment contracts, getting workers’ representation involved in the development of health and workplace policies, eliminating violence and harassment at work, and addressing the shortage of nurses to improve the health worker-to-patient ratio.
The participants were also able to hear from the Association of Private Health Institution Nepal (APHIN) Advisor representing the employers’ perspective, the challenges faced by healthcare institutions in balancing costs and revenues. He suggested adopting health system insurance policies, like in other countries, to benefit workers, patients, and investors. He also positively supported better engagement with the youth to retain them in the country’s healthcare sector.
President of the Medical and Dental College Association, representing the institutions responsible for training future healthcare professionals, agreed to collaborate with healthcare workers to understand their challenges and jointly find solutions in areas such as improving salaries and benefits and better training and empowerment of healthcare workers to address high staff turnover in the sector.
Additional Secretary for the Ministry of Health & Population of Nepal, Dr Dipendra Raman Singh, the government representative to the dialogue, expressed deep appreciation for the informative and eye-opening discussions that shed light on critical gaps in the healthcare sector. He assured that he would bring back the key messages from the forum and further committed to ensuring the establishment of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) committees in all healthcare institutions, with rigorous monitoring.
UNI Apro Regional Secretary Rajendra Acharya expressed appreciation for UNIPHIN’s efforts and for the willingness of the government and employers to participate in the constructive forum. He underscored the importance of such social dialogues for collective progress and collaboration among all stakeholders. He also emphasized the need for zero tolerance of violence and harassment in the world of work and encouraged the stakeholders to support Nepal in ratifying the ILO C190.