NMA to shut OPDs across country

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu
NMA to shut OPDs across country

Mar 31, 2015-

With the government remaining non-committal to the demands of Dr Govinda KC, the Nepal Medical Association (NMA) on Tuesday decided to shut down the out-patient departments at hospitals across the country from Wednesday.

The move from the umbrella organisation of medical doctors follows numerous but inconclusive talks with the government regarding the demands of Dr KC, who has been on a hunger strike for 10 days demanding reforms in the medical sector.

The closure is likely to affect around 150,000 patients who visit the OPDs of over 400 hospitals across the country daily. Also, 18 medical colleges that admit MBBS students will halt their services.

NMA President Dr Anjani Kumar Jha warned of disruptions even in emergency care if the government fails to heed the demands.

“At this moment, all we want is to save Dr KC’s life, and that happens through the fulfilment of his demands,” said Dr Jha.

“We have often resorted to strikes demanding reforms in medical sector. The government has let us down but we will fight back.”

He said they will go round private hospitals and clinics to make sure that the OPD is not run. “If the government remains adamant, we will halt emergency services too,” said Dr Jha. “We won’t see representatives of international agencies until they press the government for our cause.”

Dr KC has urged an end to political meddling in medical colleges and a halt in the affiliation process until a new medical education policy is formulated.

This is not the first time the NMA has called on the doctors to stop work in protest. During Dr KC’s fourth hunger strike last year, it had asked them not to work until the government addressed the demands. In December 2009, it went on an indefinite strike demanding the safety of doctors at the workplace.

No affiliations until new rules

cabinet decision

Amid growing criticism of the lack of prompt action on Dr Govinda KC’s hunger strike, the government on Tuesday decided not to grant affiliations to medical colleges until the taskforce led by Prof Kedar Bhakta Mathema tables its report on a medical education policy, and new rules to govern the sector come into effect.

An emergency Cabinet meeting held at Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s residence in Baluwatar on Tuesday afternoon, however, remained non-committal on other demands of Dr KC that include dismissal of the education minister, officials involved in granting medical affiliations from Kathmandu University and office bearers of the Tribhuvan University and the National Medical Council.

But the Cabinet decided to form a commission to investigate issues related to affiliations. “The government will implement the recommendations of the commission,” the Cabinet stated.

“The attention of the office bearers of Tribhuvan and Kathmandu Universities will be drawn on Dr KC’s demand for their resignation,” read a statement of the Cabinet decision.

Dr Yogendra Singh, who sat for talks on Dr KC’s behalf, said they are close to an agreement and the crisis might end by Wednesday. “The talks are going in positive direction. We welcome today’s decision but fulfilment of the commitments is a must,” Dr Singh told the Post on Tuesday night.

NMA President Dr Anjani Kumar Jha, however, said the government’s assurances would not be enough as they had been deceived in the past. “We cannot fight again and again for the same cause. The government should convince us as we won’t give up the fight easily this time,” he said.

The government fully authorised National Planning Commission Vice-chairman Govinda Pokhrel and Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudyal to hold talks with Dr KC and address his demands as per the laws and established principles.

Irrigation Minister NP Saud said the talks team was authorised to reach an agreement on all the demands except the resignation of some officials.

Highly-placed sources said the Cabinet was divided over the way to address the issues. Some ministers from the both ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML were in favour of issuing new affiliations.

“As the Cabinet remained divided, the government failed to take a concrete decision,” said a minister.

Doctors negotiating on behalf of Dr KC with the government said the senior orthopaedic surgeon has asked for an official copy of the Cabinet decision.

Partial agreements

A meeting of National Planning Commission Vice-chairman Govinda Pokhrel and Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudyal with Dr KC on Tuesday reached some partial agreements.

Pokhrel and Paudyal, who represent the government, agreed to scrap the decision of the Tribhuvan University to shift the MBBS programme from the Institute of Medicine, Maharajgunj, to Kirtipur and that of a parliamentary committee to grant new affiliations. They also pledged the process to establish medical schools in rural parts of the country. Other commitments from the government side were to gradually make post-graduate medical education free of cost, and form a committee to investigate the affiliations granted by Kathmandu University. (PR)

Dr KC ‘critical’

On the tenth day of his fast, the health of Dr Govinda KC deteriorated further on Tuesday with doctors saying he might need critical care anytime.

Dr Dibya Singh, who has been attending to Dr KC, said his condition was worse as the potassium and magnesium levels in his body were falling gradually while acetone in urine had shot up, indicating grave impacts of starvation on his health.

“The condition is critical,” said Dr Singh. (PR)

Published: 01-04-2015 08:28

Next Story

User's Feedback

Click here for your comments

Comment via Facebook

Don't have facebook account? Use this form to comment