Dr Govinda KC puts off his hunger strike

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Sep 28, 2017-Senior orthopaedic surgeon at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital Dr Govinda KC has postponed his 12th hunger strike following suspension of the parliamentary business that included preparations to pass a law governing the medical education sector.

In a statement on Wednesday, the agitating senior orthopaedic surgeon notified about postponement of his protest. Dr KC launched his 12th hunger strike on Monday, warning against plans to incorporate into the Health Profession Education (HPE) Bill provisions that favour a handful of institutions backed by some political party members.

Dr KC launched his signature hunger strike as parliamentarians rushed to endorse the HPE bill on Monday without including suggestions made by experts. However, hours after Dr KC embarked on the fast, Parliament failed to endorse the bill while the session was put off until October 6.

“I’ve always fought for betterment of medical education and overall health sector of the country. The apathy shown by successive governments and parliamentarians for my demand is proof that they do not care about the people of this country,” said Dr KC, adding that he would resume the hunger strike after the end of major festivals on October 5.

Dr KC said some crucial recommendations made by a team of experts led by Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former vice-chancellor at the TU, should be included in the bill before it is endorsed. A major recommendation is 10-year moratorium on establishment of new medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley.

However, recent amendments have provided leeway to grant affiliation to medical colleges inside Kathmandu Valley. The amendment considers colleges that have already built their infrastructure--the Health Profession Education Commission will conduct fresh inspections on the basis of set standards before approving the medical schools to run MBBS classes.

If passed as it is, the HPE bill will benefit some of the private medical colleges, including the Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences (MMIHS), B&C Hospital, Nepal Police Medical College, People’s Dental College and Ashwini Medical College, which have been using their political clout to gain affiliation for years. The MMIHS is promoted by UML lawmakers, while the B&C Hospital has the backing of the CPN (Maoist Centre).

Dr KC has also demanded that all medical schools comply with the government-proposed fee structure for medical colleges including Rs3.8 million for those inside Kathmandu Valley and Rs4.2 million for those outside.

“An individual is taking up the matter of decentralising healthcare services and quality issues that all politicians should compulsorily own up. Yet, they have shown little interest in the matter. This is really sad,” said Mathema. “I urge the government to immediately address his demands.”

Published: 28-09-2017 08:10

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