Dr KC breaks his fast, vows to continue fight

  • ‘Postpones’ protest in view of crisis triggered by floods and landslides
- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu
Dr KC has said his fight against malpractices in the health education sector will continue and that he will not hesitate to go on a hunger strike again if efforts are made to tamper with the HPE Bill

Aug 16, 2017-Dr KC in the last five years has been on hunger strike for 142 days. Despite 

various deals reached with past governments, his key demands still remain 

unaddressed, with political parties invariably failing to keep their word

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This was the longest hunger strike by Dr KC seeking reforms in the medical education sector

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Dr Govinda KC decided to call off his 11th fast-unto-death on Tuesday after 23 days “in view of the ongoing crisis due to floods and landslides in different parts of the country”. No deal, however, has been reached with the government regarding his demands. 

One of Dr KC’s key demands is endorsement of the Health Profession Education (HPE) Bill.  

Issuing a statement before breaking his fast, Dr KC said he was “postponing” his hunger strike considering the crisis triggered by floods and landslides across the country.

Although the government has fulfilled some of his demands, the HPE Bill is yet to be endorsed in line with the recommendations made by a team of experts led by Kedar Bhakta Mathema, read the statement. “Our fight for endorsing the bill will continue and I will launch another hunger strike if attempts are made to tamper with the bill,” the statement added. 

This was Dr KC’s longest fast-unto-death in the last five years, stretching to 23 days. 

The orthopaedic surgeon first went on fast-unto-death in 2012 during the Baburam Bhattarai-led government. The successive governments led by Khil Raj Regmi, Sushil Koirala, KP Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal also had made commitments to address Dr KC’s demands but invariably failed to keep their word. 

This is the sixth government, led by Sher Bahadur Deuba, which faced Dr KC’s hunger strike. 

The government had formed a talks team on the fourth day of Dr KC’s hunger strike. It held talks with Dr KC’s representatives at least eight times in the past three weeks, but to no avail, as the secretary-level dialogue team expressed its inability to guarantee the passage of the HPE Bill, saying it was strictly a parliamentary business.

The HPE Bill, which has been in Parliament since September last year, was last week tweaked by the Committee on Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare in such a way that it lost the essence of the Mathema-led committee’s recommendations and suited a certain group.

One of the provisions of the HPE Bill calls for putting a 10-year moratorium on establishing new medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley. But this has been opposed by some lawmakers, particularly those who represent the CPN-UML. 

 In a bid to find a middle path, the parliamentary committee had again reworked on the bill with the provision that affiliations to medical colleges which have already obtained the letter of intent would be granted “only if they meet the criteria to be set by the HPE Commission, a medical education regulatory framework envisioned by the HPE Bill”. 

However, Dr KC remained adamant on putting a blanket ban on new medical colleges in the Valley, saying hospitals and medical schools must be spread across the country evenly so as to ensure basic healthcare services to all the citizens at an affordable cost. 

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Cabinet decided to form a committee led by the chief secretary to study the possibility of government buying medical colleges which have already built their infrastructure. 

Published: 16-08-2017 07:32

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