Call for integrity

  • Lawmakers need to push HPE bill in line with recommendations from the Mathema report

Sep 25, 2017-Dr Govinda KC has once again warned of launching a hunger strike. This is not good. The fact that the good doctor has to go on repeated hunger strikes indicates how deeply entrenched interest groups that drive the country’s lucrative medical sector are.

This will be his 12th hunger strike; he called off the last one on August 15, after 23 days, when he was assured that the Mathema Commission recommendations would be met. And yet again, the issues he has been fighting for remain unaddressed.  

Dr KC in the last five years—he launched his first hunger strike in 2012—has indeed managed to expose the anomalies in the medical sector. But successive governments have offered no more than lip service, with just a set or two of agreements to appease Dr KC, and placate the orthopaedic surgeon enough to call off his hunger strike.

Dr KC’s latest warning comes on the heels of reports that parliamentarians, who have less than a month in office, are planning to rush through the Health Profession Education (HPE) Bill. The provisions in the law would directly benefit a handful of health institutions where political party members have financial stakes. This also comes right after the lawmakers endorsed the controversial Education Act-1972 (Ninth Amendment) Bill, which largely favours thousands of temporary teachers, who are more political cadres (and were “recruited” at the behest of some political party leaders) than efficient individuals with the commitment to embrace the dignified profession of teaching. Education experts have rightly objected to the amendment to the Education Act, saying the move would push the country’s public education sector 25 years behind.

This is a sad state of affairs. Imagine the medical education sector which is already in a shambles coupled with a public education sector that is set to further deteriorate. People are set to be deprived of basic healthcare services, which are guaranteed as a fundamental right, and the future of hundreds of thousands of students in public schools is in jeopardy.

Unsurprisingly, Dr KC has emerged as a beacon of hope. But, as we have argued here on numerous occasions, a hunger strike should not be the way to get things addressed. Dr KC must not be forced to resort to a form of protest that endangers his life. 

We urge the government to endorse the HPE Bill in line with the recommendations made by the Mathema Commission. The bill seeks to put a moratorium on opening new medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley for the next 10 years. But lawmakers have managed to insert a clause in the bill to dilute the overall reforms in medical education. 

There is still time to stop Dr KC from risking his life by going on yet another hunger strike.

Published: 25-09-2017 07:44

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