House committee says HPE Bill top priority

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 1, 2017-A parliamentary committee reviewing the Health Profession Education (HPE) Bill has decided to expedite the process to endorse it to facilitate a government team, which is holding talks with Dr Govinda KC who has been on a hunger strike for the last eight days demanding its passage at the earliest. 

The HPE Bill is currently at the Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare Committee of Parliament. 

As many as 54 lawmakers have registered a total of 276 proposals seeking amendments to 51 clauses.

The committee has begun discussions with various stakeholders and parliamentarians to expedite the [endorsement] process, said Ranju Jha, chairperson of the Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare Committee.      

“The HPE Bill is top priority of our committee. We hope to send the bill back to Parliament for endorsement in a few days,” said Jha. 

But there are concerns whether the bill would be passed soon, given the sheer number of amendment proposals filed by lawmakers, objecting to some provisions of the bill.

Lawmakers Rajendra Pandey, Naresh Kharel and Man Kumar Gautam, all from the CPN-UML, have called for removal of Clause 12 (a) of the bill that bars opening of new medical colleges in the Valley for 10 years. Dr Bansidhar Mishra, also a UML lawmaker, has sought removal of Clause 12 (b), which requires a hospital to run a 300-bed facility to qualify for running a medical school.

UML lawmakers Pandey and Mishra had stakes in the Manmohan Memorial Academy of Health Sciences, which the government acquired following a series of hunger strikes by Dr KC. The academy was widely criticised for using political clout to obtain permission to run MBBS classes.

But it’s not only the UML lawmakers who have objected to the bill. Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre) lawmakers also have registered proposals seeking amendments to various clauses of the bill. Dr KC, who decided to launch fast-unto-death for the first time in 2012, has been demanding major reforms in the medical education sector, saying people’s access to basic healthcare cannot be guaranteed until the existing anomalies are removed.

But despite assurances in the past, successive governments have failed to address Dr KC’s demands, forcing the orthopaedic surgeon to launch his 11th hunger strike this time, which he started on July 24. 

On Sunday, Jha sat in a meeting with Health Minister Giriraj Mani Pokhrel, Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha and representatives of Dr KC to express commitment to endorse the bill. 

But Dr KC, who has in the past been given assurances, says he wants the bill endorsed, not commitments.

Published: 01-08-2017 07:06

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