National Medical Education Bill discussion stuck on preamble

Kathmandu, November 26

The question of whether the Mathema-led high level committee which had recommended a number of measures to improve medical education should be mentioned in the preamble of the National Medical Education Bill has put the relevant parliamentary sub-panel in a quandary.

This is a key demand of Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Govinda KC who has been crusading to improve the country’s medical education.

The sub-committee of Education and Health Committee of the House of Representatives led by lawmaker Bhairav Bahadur Singh finished clause-wise discussion today but failed to take a decision on what the sub-panel should do about giving recognition to the Mathema committee in the preamble.

Lawmakers also finished debate on the  22 amendment proposals to the bill but failed to take decision on any of those proposals.

There is a conventional style of drafting the preamble on the bill in Nepal. Whereas Dr Govinda KC has demanded his own preamble statement on the bill. The government and Dr KC had inked a nine-point deal to amend the bill on July 26 after which KC ended his 15the hunger strike.

Sub-committee member Khaga Raj Adhikari said that it had never happened in the past that any committee was specially recognised in the preamble of a bill and if such a thing happened in this bill, then it would set a bad precedent.

Adhikari said a middle path could be that if the preamble stated that medical reform issues were being addressed as per the spirit of different committees formed in the past.

Nepal Communist Party  (NCP) lawmaker Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, who had registered an amendment with the party’s Chief Whip Dev Prasad Gurung and Whip Shanta Chaudhary, told the sub-panel’s meeting that the bill should incorporate the nine-point deal signed  with Dr KC. “But if there is any legal problem in the bill such as the preamble issue, then the members of the panel should resolve it themselves.”

But Dr KC has warned the government not to change any thing of the nine-point deal, not even a comma or full stop. As the sub-panel remains undecided about the preamble, it plans to hold more discussion with lawmakers of the main opposition Nepali Congress and other stakeholders.

“NC lawmakers are busy with their party’s internal work. “Again, we are going to discuss issues with  related stakeholders of the bill,” coordinator of sub-committee Singh said. The sub-committee could also hold discussion with  Dr KC, but Dr KC had said the nine-point deal was enough and he should not be consulted on the issue.

Some lawmakers even asked the sub-panel to amend the name of the bill. They said the word  ‘Medical Education’ in the title of the bill should be replaced with the word ‘Health Science’.