Bid to pass Medical Education Bill fails

Kathmandu, October 12

The Parliament Secretariat could not list the Medical Education Bill in today’s business schedule mainly due to the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre’s opposition to the government’s proposal to make some key changes in the bill to address the demands of Dr Govinda KC.

Dr KC has been staging hunger strike for over a week demanding reform in the medical education sector.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha today proposed in an informal  meeting with Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar, the chief whips of the three major parties and members of Women, Children,  Senior Citizen and Social Welfare Committee of the Parliament that the parliamentary panel’s report  should be changed to stipulate that no affiliation would be given to any medical college in Kathmandu Valley for the next 10 years; and a university could not grant affiliation to more than five colleges; and a university could grant affiliation only after the affiliation-seeking college completed three years of operation of its own hospital.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Gagan Kumar Thapa said that DPM Shrestha, who wanted to make three key changes in the bill,  wanted the Parliament Secretariat to list the bill in today’s business and also put the bill to vote today itself.

Sources said the speaker told the parties to hold more dialogue on the bill and reach a conclusion before the House meeting started tomorrow.

CPN-MC lawmaker Dhani Ram Paudel, who is a member of Women, Children, Senior Citizen and Social Welfare Committee of the Parliament, said  Shrestha wanted to change the panel’s report to address the demands of Dr Govinda KC, but CPN-MC and CPN-UML representatives did not agree.

UML Chief Whip Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, who was present in the meeting, said he opposed Shrestha’s proposals because  they  went against the changes made by the relevant panel of the Parliament and would also undermine the supremacy of the Parliament.

Paudel said Shrestha had also proposed that a university could not grant affiliation to a college without the college having completed three years of operation of its own hospital. This was against the parliamentary panel’s provision.

Paudel said DPM Shrestha’s proposal was against the panel’s suggestion that said all provinces would have to open at least one medical college in the next five years.

“We cannot fulfil Dr KC’s demands because we want to open more colleges in Nepal to enable Nepali students to get affordable medical education in the country,” he said, adding that if Dr KC’s demands were fulfilled then large number of our students would have to go abroad for medical education.  Paudel said his party also did not favour concentrating all medical infrastructure in Kathmandu, but some elements were trying to give the message that only Dr KC was championing this cause.

NC lawmaker Thapa said the big three parties had divergent views on the medical education bill and there was no indication that they could reach compromise on the issue. “Therefore, parties should allow the Parliament to take a call on the issue. Blocking the bill from being listed in the Parliament’s business schedule is not fair,” Thapa said.

The Parliament Secretariat had been trying to list the bill in the business schedule since last week but could not do so due to the CPN-UML and CPN-MC’s opposition.