House panel fails to discuss medical education bill

- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Nov 2, 2018-

Despite pressure from campaigner Dr Govinda KC, lawmakers from a parliamentary committee appear reluctant to finalise the National Medical Education Bill, which was drafted incorporating the demands of the senior orthopaedic surgeon.

A meeting of the subcommittee under the Education and Health Committee of the House of Representatives called to discuss the draft bill was deferred in the lack of quorum as a majority of its members did not show up. Only five among 11 members of the subcommittee were present on Thursday.

Minister for Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel had returned after waiting for over an hour as the meeting failed to convene.

Interestingly, Nepali Congress lawmakers, who have spoken in favour of the bill for long, were absent too. The bill was tabled in Parliament to address the concerns of Dr KC, who has campaigning for reforms in the country’s medical education sector. He ended his 15th indefinite hunger strike on July 26, after the government expressed its commitment to endorsing the bill incorporating the recommendations of a task force led by Kedar Bhakta Mathema, a former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University. Despite reiterated commitments from the government, the bill was not put to a vote in Parliament last session.

“This is absolutely ridiculous. This shows how reluctant our parties are in coming up with the law,” Dr KC told the Post. “I will begin yet another hunger strike if they don’t change.”

The crusader said he had been closely watching the acts of the government and the political parties. With the deferral of the meeting, the House committee is unlikely to ready the bill by the planned November 17 date.

Committee Chairperson Jayapuri Gharti said the lawmakers had been absent due to their busy schedule. “This incident shouldn’t be taken as our reluctance to finalise the bill. We are serious that this gets through the next House session,” she said. The President has yet to summon the winter session of Parliament.

A large number of lawmakers are against the proposed 10 year-moratorium on establishing medical colleges in the Valley, one of the key demands of Dr KC. The bill also provisions 75 percent scholarships in government medical colleges, setting up at least one state-run teaching hospital in each province, and making it mandatory for a medical college to operate a hospital for three years before getting an affiliation to run MBBS courses.

Published: 02-11-2018 08:11

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