Senior orthopedic surgeon Dr Govinda KC has ended his hunger strike after signing a nine-point agreement with the government on Thursday, 27 days after he resorted to his 15th fast-unto-death.
Dr KC broke his hunger strike by drinking juice from the hands of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Subas Nembang and Professor Dr Kedar Bhakta Mathema after the government agreed to his major demand of putting a ban on opening a new medical college in Kathmandu Valley for 10 years.
This was the longest hunger strike of the anti-corruption crusader, who had already held a series of hunger strikes before, demanding reforms in country's medical education and profession.
“We will implement the agreement through Parliament,” Nembang said.
After the agreement, Dr KC was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Maharajgunj-based Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) due to his deteriorating health.
Talks between the government team and representatives of Dr Govinda KC protracted until late on Thursday after the issue of granting affiliation to new medical colleges became a bone of contention.
Dr KC started his 15th fast-unto-death at the Jumla-based Karnali Academy of Health Sciences on June 30 demanding reforms in medical education sector and withdrawal of National Medical Education Bill tabled in the Parliament.
The crusader, who had been staging hunger strike at the TUTH after the government forcibly brought him to Kathmandu from Jumla on the 20th day, had accused the government of attempting to introduce the National Medical Education Bill by altering major provisions of the Medical Education Ordinance, introduced during the tenure of erstwhile Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, so as to allow establishment of new medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley.
Accusing the government of turning its blind eye to the deteriorating health of Dr KC and his demands, resident doctors had been staging demonstrations for the past few weeks to pile pressure on the government to address the demands of Dr KC at the earliest.
After the government was found digging in its heels over the concerns of Dr KC, the resident doctors organised a press conference on Wednesday to pressurise the government to address the demands of the senior orthopedic surgeon at the earliest. During the press conference, they also urged the government to save the life of Dr KC as he may lose his consciousness anytime as his health is sinking so much.
Resident doctors had also said that Dr KC was under massive risk with high deficiency of glucose. His blood pressure (BP), White Blood Cell (WBC), and potassium have dropped below the minimum required level.
Dr KC had demanded that the government withdraw the bill from the Parliament and incorporate major provisions in the Bill in line with the recommendations of a taskforce led by Kedar Bhakta Mathema.
Some of the crucial recommendations made by the taskforce led by Mathema are imposing a moratorium on setting up medical colleges in the Kathmandu Valley for 10 years, mandatory for a hospital to run for three years before it expands into a medical college; allowing one university grant affiliation to maximum of five medical colleges.
Earlier on Wednesday, talks between government and representatives of Dr Govinda KC failed to make headway after the former refused to budge from its stance and walks out of the negotiating table. The representatives of Dr KC said that they were compelled to walk out of the meeting room after Education Secretary Khagraj Baral refused to talk on the Bill.
They claimed Baral-led panel lacked the mandate from the government and it focused on other demands such as revoking the ban on staging protests at Maitighar Mandala and setting up medical colleges in every province.
Earlier on Thursday afternoon, the TUTH formed a nine-member committee of doctors under the headship of Dr Pradeep Krishna Shrestha, Head of Department of General Medicine and Dr Dibya Singh Shah, Head of Department of Nephrology to look after the health of Dr KC.