KATHMANDU: Medical Activist and Senior Orthopaedic surgeon Doctor Govinda KC has begun a fresh hunger strike, his sixteenth, from 5:00 pm on Wednesday.
Dr KC reached Ilam district in Province 1 in a bid to launch the fast-unto-death in protest of the draft of National Medical Education Bill endorsed by a sub-committee of the Parliamentary Education and Health Committee. According to the doctor, the draft bill does not accomodate his demands as per the agreement reached earlier between government and him.
The draft endorsed by the sub-committee does not follow the rules regarding opening of new medical colleges as per the recommendation of the proposed high-level Medical Education Commission led by the prime minister. However, it has provisions to allow institutions outside Kathmandu valley that have already acquired letters of intent and built necessary infrastructure to operate.
The agreement reached with Dr KC calls for phasing out short-term CTEVT courses within five years after the enactment of the bill. However, the draft bill states that a decision on this issue, including phasing out and/or upgrading certain CTEVT courses, will be taken as per the recommendation of a task force formed to study the matter.
Issuing a statement today, Dr KC has put forth six-point demand which includes passing National Medical Education Bill without change, action against 43 officials of Tribhuvan University as per the recommendation made by the high level National Medical Education Commission led by former Judge Gauri Bahadur Karki.
He has also demanded a fair and effective investigation on the mysterious case of Nirmala Panta’s rape and murder.
The strike which was expected to be announced on January 2 was put off till January 9 following a request from the Parliament’s Education and Health Committee Chairman, Jayapuri Gharti Magar, to withhold the decision. Lawmaker Gharti had asked for sometime to discuss matters pertaining to the Medical Education Bill while expressing commitment to fully honour the agreement.
KC and the government had reached a nine-point agreement on July 26 ending the doctor’s 15th hunger strike.
A report on the National Medical Education Bill- 2075 BS has been endorsed by the Education and Health Committee under the House of Representatives.
The committee meeting on Wednesday passed the report with a majority as 14 among 18 members present voted in favour of the document. Four members from the opposition parties stood against the report. The report on the bill was endorsed by a majority as per the Article 181 of the House of Representatives Regulations- 2075 BS.
Committee chair Jayapuri Gharti had presented the report seeking its endorsement before the meeting. The report on the bill was prepared by a sub-committee formed under the convenorship of the committee member Bhairav Bahadur Singh.
In the prior meeting of the committee, Minister for Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokhrel viewed that the bill should incorporate the spirit of agreements reached between the government and Dr Govinda KC in the past.
In today’s session, the minister expressed his hope that the National Medical Education Commission proposed in the bill would be able to address the related issues.
Committee member Yogesh Bhattarai claimed that the bill had been brought bearing in mind the agreements reached between the two sides in the past and parliament’s supremacy. He was of the view that Dr KC should accept the document.
Another committee member and former Health Minister Gagan Kumar Thapa who presented a differing view on the bill in the meeting said it was really unfortunate that the report on the bill was passed by the committee on the basis of majority against the government-Dr KC agreement.
Another member Umakant Chaudhary termed the bill as against the agreement between the government and Dr KC.
What is in the bill report?
No letter of intent shall be awarded to establish and operate a medical institution to run the bachelor-level programmes on medical, dental and nursing subjects in Kathmandu Valley for the next ten years; one has to pass the central entrance exam to pursue medical education and anyone completing the medical education with government scholarship must complete two years mandatory service in a government-run medical institution.
A university shall not be allowed to grant affiliation to more than five medical education teaching institutions to run the medical classes, but in case of those colleges who have already obtained the affiliations and completed the criteria, decision shall be taken by the National Medical Education Commission (proposed in the bill).
No teaching institution shall be given a letter of intent for running classes and internship (towards medical) until they have at least a 300-bed hospital in operation and for conducting the classes towards dental and nursing programmes, the operation of a 100-bed ( at least) facility is mandatory.
The National Medical Education Commission shall fix polices and criteria regarding the determination of standard and level of all medical education related programmes at the center and province and give required direction to Universities and Council in regard with the medical education.
A body assigned by the National Medical Education Commission shall conduct programmes of proficiency certificate level under the Council of Technical Education and Vocational Training; and the public medical institution shall allocate at least 50 per cent of the total available seats under the bachelor level programmes free of cost.
Similarly, a medical university shall be established and operated while medical education-related teaching institutes shall be gradually transferred into non-profitable and serve-oriented organisations.