Asian Human Rights Commission all praise for Dr KC

Kathmandu, July 27

The Asian Human Rights Commission has praised the undeterred courage of Dr Govinda KC, who single-handedly made the Government of Nepal fulfil his demands after staging a fast-unto-death for 27 days.

Dr KC started his 15th hunger strike from Jumla district on June 30, demanding that the medical education law be drafted based on the recommendations made by the Mathema-led commission. When his health deteriorated, the government forcibly airlifted Dr KC to Kathmandu, where he continued his hunger strike at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj. He was rejecting treatment even after his white blood cells count and blood sugar levels fell critically low.

The government finally struck a nine-point deal with Dr KC yesterday after massive public pressure from inside and outside Nepal. People from all walks of life, including fellow doctors, students, editors and journalists, human rights defenders, civil society leaders, actors, former justices and common citizens rallied in the streets and conducted mass hunger strikes to support his demands.  Doctors halted their services in many parts of the country, only providing emergency services. There was an overwhelming pressure on the government to adhere to Dr KC’s demands and to ‘abolish Nepal’s medical mafia’.

The government has now agreed to amend 22 provisions of the Medical Education Bill in accordance with Dr KC’s demands. “Its earlier insistence on passing the Medical Education Bill in contravention of the Mathema commission’s recommendations indicated that the government was serving Nepal’s medical mafia rather than ordinary citizens,” a press release issued by the AHRC said. The government also agreed to impose a moratorium on setting up medical colleges in the Kathmandu valley for 10 years. However, it will monitor existing medical colleges regarding their infrastructure, and if they fall below the criteria, they may wish to sell to the government or opt to move outside Kathmandu valley.

Additionally, a hospital must now run for three years before it expands into a medical college and one university can grant affiliation to a maximum of five medical colleges. There must be 75 per cent scholarship in government medical colleges.

The government has said it will introduce an amendment proposal bill in the Parliament in the next few days. Close follow up and monitoring is essential to ensure that the government adheres to its agreement, as the government is notorious for backing off from its promises. The government must also promote the establishment of medical colleges in Nepal’s rural areas, where people do not have easy access to health care. They are spending their life savings, selling their property, and borrowing money on high interest to receive basic treatment.

“Now with the much required medical reforms in the pipeline, the medical mafia system can be expected to end in Nepal, and common Nepalis can expect to receive easy access to affordable quality medical treatment. People living in remote areas will not have to die in the absence of doctors, hospitals and basic medicines,” the AHRC said.

“The level of corruption and crony capitalism that Nepal’s socialist government has fallen into is indicated by the fact that Dr KC had to stage 15 rounds of fast-unto-death hunger strike to convince it to be people-minded.  The AHRC strongly urges the government to end its indifference to the general populace and ensure that Dr KC has no cause for beginning his 16th round of fast-unto-death,” it added.