All eyes on Oli-led government over its possible move on HPE Act

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Feb 20, 2018-

All eyes are trained on the new government over its move on the Health Profession Education (HPE) Act that bars establishment of medical schools inside Kathmandu Valley for the next 10 years. 

The CPN-UML-led government, which had vehemently opposed the Act, now shoulders the responsibility to ensure its approval and wider acceptance. 

The HPE Act, formulated through an ordinance on February 5, sets a 10-year moratorium on opening of new medical colleges inside Kathmandu Valley. The Act, however, must to be approved by the House of Representatives within six days of its first meeting. 

UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) lawmakers have remained opposed to the 

HPE Act as it would stop establishment of two medical colleges. These colleges--Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences in Kathmandu and the Birtamod-based B & C Hospital--have been lobbying for years to get affiliation. Manmohan has been promoted by UML lawmakers and CPN (Maoist Centre) leaders have their stakes at the B & C. 

Interestingly on Sunday, KP Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal held a meeting on party unification at the residence of Durga Prasain, the owner of B & C Hospital, in Thimi, Bhaktapur. Both the leaders are believed to be close to Prasain and have hardly missed hospital functions in Jhapa. 

Even at the time of formulating this law calling for the 10-year moratorium, there were strong reservations from UML and Maoist lawmakers. Newly elected Prime Minister Oli has always been satirical, if not opposed, to the cause championed by Dr Govinda KC, who has already staged 14 hunger strikes demanding reforms in medical education. Oli has criticised Dr KC for “creating a mess in medical sector” while openly speaking against the HPE Act.

While the government’s official position on the matter was not forthcoming, Bishnu Rimal, a UML leader close to Oli, said they are not against “valid provisions” of the HPE Act. 

“UML does not want a messy medical education system that produces substandard doctors. But projecting UML against Dr KC and linking us with the Manmohan is wrong,” said Rimal. 

However, experts including Dr KC maintain that there is no need to establish new medical colleges inside the Valley. Dr KC, however, insists that there is no alternative for this government to go against the Act. “We are fighting for a larger cause. We expect support from the government. If they try to alter previous decisions, including that of provisions in the HPE Act, we’ll immediately launch another round of struggle,” he warns.

Published: 20-02-2018 09:05

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