Dr KC puts off fast-unto-death protest

KATHMANDU, August 12

Dr Govinda KC, senior orthopaedic surgeon at the Institute of Medicine of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), postponed his sixth fast-unto-death, that was slated to begin from on Wednesday, after the government assured his demands would be addressed.

Dr KC said he had put off his protest programme till 4:00pm, August 24, to give the government sufficient time to work on fulfilling his six-point demand.

Last week, the veteran doctor had warned the government he would be staging a fast-unto-death for the sixth time from on Wednesday, putting forth demands related to health education sector.

He had issued a six-point charter of demands that included implementation of the report submitted by a high-level task force formed under the leadership of Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former vice-chancellor of TU to recommend a national policy on Health Profession Education (HPE).

Issuing a press statement here on Wednesday, Dr KC said that he decided to postpone the protest programme after the government sought some time to do the needful homework to address his demands.

He said that a team of government officials led by National Planning Commission (NPC) vice-chairperson Govinda Raj Pokharel and member Yagya Bahadur Karki met him and assured that the government was preparing to implement the report at the earliest.

According to the statement, they have also assured they will implement past agreements reached with him, including appointment of office bearers of universities and other bodies related to health and education on the basis of seniority, qualification and work competence.

“If the government fails to come up with a Cabinet decision on implementing the Mathema-led panel report and other demands, including appointments in various institutions by August 24, I will resume the protest from 4:00pm the same day,” reads the statement from Dr KC.

Government officials which also included Shanta Bahadur Shrestha, secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, had urged him not to go on hunger strike, citing the unfavourable political situation, the Constituent Assembly’s preparations to deliver the new constitution, post-disaster situation, and the government decision to fulfil his demands.

The Mathema-led panel had submitted its report to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on June 29. It was made public on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers only on August 4.

Instead of taking a Cabinet decision to implement the report, the Cabinet had assigned its Social Committee to make provisions to implement it.

Later, the Cabinet’s committee formed a sub-committee under the coordination of a member of NPC overseeing education and health with members such as secretaries of Finance Ministry, Education Ministry and MoHP to prepare the working procedure related to HPE Policy by studying, analysing and discussing with the concerned people.

The sub-committee was given 30 days’ time to prepare the working procedure on the basis of needs, feasibility and priority.