Of 2,000 microbiology graduates, many have been denied licence to practice
Kathmandu, August 20
Stating that licensing procedure was discriminatory, microbiology graduates and students have urged the Nepal Health Professional Council to issue licences to all graduates. The council issues licences only to those who graduated from medical colleges.
The council does not issue licences to microbiology students who graduate from the Central Department of Tribhuvan University and Institute of Science and Technology, to work in health sector. The university has been running microbiology programme for the last 30 years. But the graduates have not been issued licences. There are about 2,000 microbiologists in the country and many are deprived of licenses.Graduates who formed Microbiologist Struggle committee (including current students), have demanded to immediately re-open name registration in the council which was halted by the NHPC in 2011.
The NHPC had issued temporary licences to 116 microbiologists at that time. The National Public Health Laboratory, in its letter to NHPC in 2011 had asked it not to halt issuing licences. But the procedure was halted following a writ petition filed in the Supreme Court.The students and graduates have demanded that permission be given to graduates to teach microbiology in different levels of various educational institutions. The NHPC has also made it mandatory to hold a licence for teaching programmes like MBBS, BDS, Health Assistant, Pharmacy and Public Health. They have also demanded to formulate public health microbiology guidelines and establish a microbiology council and a microbiology research centre, besides including microbiology programme at schools. “We have been teaching students as per the guidelines of the NHPC. We have also submitted Rs 80,000 along with an application to the NHPC for inspection visits, but no one came for inspection,” said Megha Raj Banjara, Head of Department, Central Department of Microbiology at TU. The students have also asked the NHPC to take initiative for compulsory hiring of microbiologists in various food and beverages companies. Microbiologists are able to conduct diagnosis tests, identify cause of infectious diseases, suggest measures for disease control and are also capable of teaching at universities and guide research students. There is no point in barring students from acquiring licences, said Bhupendra Lama, member of the struggle committee.The council has been issuing licences to those studying in medical institutions but hasn’t issued licences to those studying in the university.
It also awards licences to those who have acquired equivalence certificates from the Tribhuvan University after completing their studies at universities in India, Bangladesh and other countries, in the faculty of science and technology, said Lama. Microbiologists have in-depth knowledge on public health, food and agriculture. Microbiologists are important as they help in monitoring anti-microbial resistance, multi-drug resistance, infectious disease detection, prevention and control.
Microbiologists also do research on drinking water and food contamination. They can work as scientists in production of antibiotics, antibody, steroids, vaccines and hormone, said Banjara.
“Curriculum should be approved before running the course. As the Central Department, TU has failed to do so, we can’t issue licences to its students,” said Ram Prasad Bhandari, chairman of NHPC, adding that NHPC is set to hold a dialogue with the Central Department, TU regarding the issue.
A version of this article appears in print on August 21, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.