Dr KC warns of 16th hunger strike

  • Parliament sub-committee endorses bill on medical education through vote
- NAYAK PAUDEL, Kathmandu

Jan 8, 2019-

Dr Govinda KC, who has staged 15 rounds of hunger strikes so far demanding reforms in the medical education sector, has warned of another fast-unto-death if the parliamentary Education and Health Committee finalises the “final draft” of the Medical Education Bill submitted by its sub-committee.

The sub-committee, formed more than three months ago, submitted the bill to the House committee on Sunday, but many of the provisions are not in conformity to Dr KC’s demands.

Just as the committee is planning to finalise the bill and Dr KC is warning of another round of hunger strike, some lawmakers, especially from the governing Nepal Communist Party, have claimed some foul play.

“It is not Dr KC who is against our final draft of the bill. He is being used by someone else to stage hunger strike to pressurise the government,” NCP lawmaker Bhairab Bahadur Singh, coordinator of the sub-committee, told the Post.

Singh, however, would not say who that “someone else” was.

During the sub-committee’s meeting on Sunday, Nepali Congress’s  Gagan Thapa was the only lawmaker who opposed the bill, saying it was against Dr KC’s demands.

But the sub-panel submitted the bill after its coordinator called for votes, and majority of lawmakers approved it. Out of 11 members in the sub-committee, three members are from the NC and the rest from the NCP.

“The so-called communist lawmakers are now against what is in the larger interest of the general public as they are working to introduce rules and regulations that will benefit a handful of businessmen. This fact has now become clear, as the bill suits the medical mafia rather than the general public,” Dr KC said at a press meet on Monday. He warned of launching another round of hunger strike if the bill tabled in Parliament fail to meet his demands.

Amendments have been made to the provisions of providing affiliation to medical colleges with Letter of Intent (LoI), running all medical colleges as non-profitable and the phasing out of Auxiliary Health Worker and Nurse Midwife courses under the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) within five years.

As per the demands of NCP lawmakers, medical colleges with LoI should be provided affiliation by either Tribhuvan University (TU) or Kathmandu University (KU) so that they can run medical classes at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the demands between Dr KC and the government include that no university will be allowed to provide affiliation to more than five medical colleges. TU and KU have already exceeded the numbers.

If the bill is passed with the provision of allowing TU or KU to grant affiliations to those with LoI, the Jhapa-based B&C Medical College Teaching Hospital and Research Centre will directly benefit. There is said to be “close relations” between B&C hospital’s executive committee and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and NCP Co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

“I have staged hunger strikes for 15 times against the medical mafia, but at last all of them are together as political leaders and government officials,” said Dr KC. “The 16th hunger strike will be against all those corrupt political and government officials.”

As per the demands of Dr KC, there is a provision in which a medical college can be granted affiliation only by a university of the respective province.

Dr KC has also been calling for establishing government teaching hospitals in Ilam and Doti or Dadeldhura.

Taplejung is the constituency of NCP lawmaker Yogesh Bhattarai who is also a member in both the committee and sub-committee. Ilam is also the linking district with Jhapa, the constituency of PM Oli.   

“The government can run a constituent college of Purwanchal University and then grant affiliation to B&C after the college produces its first batch of MBBS students,” Dr KC told the Post. “TU or KU should not grant affiliation to any more medical colleges.”

The House committee has only two days to table the bill. Following assurances from the committee, Dr KC earlier postponed his plant to launch the next round of hunger strike twice.

“It does not look like the bill will be tabled,” said Dr KC. “Now I am not going to fall for any assurances. The bill must be tabled in its original form by the given deadline of January 9 without tweaking any provisions, or else I will start my hunger strike,” he warned.

Dr KC, a senior orthopaedic surgeon at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, had ended his 15th hunger strike on July 26 after the government signed a nine-point deal with him, committing to endorsing the bill by incorporating the recommendations of a task force led by former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University Kedar Bhakta Mathema.

A couple of days ago, Dr KC had reached Ilam to stage his 16th hunger strike, but postponed his plan after the House committee chair Jaypuri Gharti assured of endorsing the bill at the earliest.

A committee meeting held on Monday afternoon ended without arriving at any conclusion.

Published: 08-01-2019 08:00

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