Kathmandu, January 31
Nepal Medical Association, the umbrella organisation of medical doctors and dentists, today decided to shut down all health services except emergency service tomorrow.
NMA, which supports senior orthopaedic surgeon Dr Govinda KC’s demands related to reform in medical education, has been staging relay hunger strike since January 29 demanding that the government meet Dr KC’s demands. Dr KC, whose fast-unto-death entered the 23rd day today, has been demanding incorporation of the nine-point pact he signed with the government in July into the National Medical Education Bill.
The NMA said it decided to shut down all health services except emergency service as a symbolic protest because the government kept mum on Dr KC’s demands that he put forth to make medical education affordable and health service accessible and failed to respect Dr KC’s basic human rights. The NMA said it would close all health services except emergency tomorrow in all government, non-government and private hospitals, including medical colleges. It has urged all doctors to support its cause.
The NMA apologised to the public for the inconvenience its strike would cause. It said if the government did not seek a negotiated settlement on the issues raised by Dr KC, it would take more stringent measures to pressure the government. It said the government would be responsible for any situation that may arise due to doctors’ strike.
NMA President Dr Mukti Ram Shrestha said if the government showed a conciliatory approach towards NMA by forming a talks team, it would withdraw the strike or else NMA would decide its future course of action tomorrow.
He said their demands would make medical education affordable and health services accessible to all Nepalis. “If one day’s inconvenience can make our life better, then why should we not be ready to face suffering?” he wondered.
The NMA expressed shock over the government’s apathy towards its demands, as the Upper House of the Parliament, today passed the National Medical Education Bill. “We condemn the government’s apathy towards Dr KC’s demands and its attempt to vitiate the environment by infiltrating its agents in our peaceful protest,” the NMA stated in its release. It added that it was saddened by the government’s apathy towards Dr KC.
A version of this article appears in print on February 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.