UML MPs, also patrons of MMIHS, block buyout

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Aug 8, 2017-Strong lobby from CPN-UML parliamentarians and their refusal to sell the Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences (MMIHS) has re-stoked the controversy of party cadres vying to run a medical college inside Kathmandu Valley.

The UML parliamentarians who are among the investors of the MMIHS are vehemently opposing the Clause 12 of the Health Profession Education (HPE) bill that bars establishment of medical colleges to be run for a decade. Their apparent intention is to quash the provision and use their political clout to secure operating licence to run MBBS programme. 

Among the 54 lawmakers who have filed 276 amendments in the HPE bill, 39 of them represent UML party. The HPE bill is currently under consideration at the Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare Committee, chaired by Ranju Jha, a UML parliamentarian. 

During the eighth hunger strike of Dr Govinda KC, the then government led by KP Sharma Oli of UML had agreed to acquire MMIHS. It was then agreed that the National Academy of Medical Science would purchase the property of MMIHS.

Multiple meetings were held and the MMIHS shareholders too had agreed to sell the property. Things moved forward after Gagan Thapa was appointed the Health Minister. 

“Given the positive response from the Manmohan representative, I proposed changing name of National Academy of Medical Sciences Bir Hospital to Manmohan National Academy of Medical Sciences. This gesture symbolised our strong commitment to buy the property,” Thapa said. “However, all of a sudden the shareholders of the institution changed their mind and the deal was left in a limbo.”

The MMIHS representatives have their own argument. Dr Krishna Adhikari, who had mediated the talks between the government and MMIHS officials, said the government failed to consider the case as a political one.

 “Buying the infrastructure of Manmohan required a strong political commitment which the government lacked. Forming a committee comprising bureaucrats was useless,” Dr Adhikari said. 

The MMIHS is run by Nepal Health Care Co-operative Limited (NEHCO-Nepal) where a majority of the 2,434 members are cadres of CPN-UML. 

The chairman of the NEHCO is UML lawmaker Rajendra Pandey. 

According to an audited financial report of fiscal year 2013/14, the MMIHS is valued at over Rs2 billion mark.

The controversy on MMIHS came to the fore after a report prepared by a committee chaired by Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former Vice Chancellor of Tribhuvan University, proposed a 10-year moratorium on establishing new medical schools. 

The Health Profession Education Policy, however, had given the government the leeway to acquire any private entity with the consent from the owners.

Decentralisation of medical colleges has been a major demand of Dr KC who has been staging hunger strike for the last 15 days. This is his 11th hunger strike since 2012 demanding various reforms in medical education. 

Published: 08-08-2017 08:20

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