Parliamentary panel fails to reach consensus on Health Education Bill

Kathmandu, January 2

As Dr Govinda KC prepares for his 16th hunger strike in Ilam, a meeting of the sub-committee of the Parliamentary Education and Health Committee today ended inconclusively owing to disagreements between panel members representing the ruling and opposition parties over finalisation of the National Medical Education Bill.

While opposition lawmakers are demanding that the bill be finalised as per the agreement reached with Dr KC, NCP lawmakers are for putting in place a provision whereby medical colleges that are in the process of acquiring affiliation should be allowed to operate. The two sides are not on the same page even on the language to be used in the bill.

The sub-panel was supposed to submit its report to the committee today, but could not do so due to differences.

PEHC Chair Jaya Puri Gharti said she had urged Dr KC to put off his hunger strike as the panel was trying to resolve contentious issues at the earliest. “We were expecting a report from the sub-committee today, but the committee could not furnish it,” Gharti told THT.

After the meeting was deferred, Gharti held a separate meeting with key ruling and opposition lawmakers, including Gagan Thapa, Yogesh Bhattarai and Khagraj Adhikari, in a bid to end the stalemate.

Subsequently, Dr KC postponed his hunger strike until January 9 on the request of Gagan Thapa, who has been updating the panel about Dr KC’s movement and demands.

In today’s meeting of the committee, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokhrel said some people were provoking Dr KC to stage hunger strike.

He told the meeting that affiliation should be given to institutions only after ascertaining the kind of human resources the country needed. The ministry is preparing a report in this regard. “The report will come out soon,” he said.

The panel is scheduled to meet again tomorrow.

Sub-committee member Yogesh Bhattarai said they were close to reaching consensus and that Dr KC would not need to stage hunger strike again. “The Parliament will use its conscience,” he told THT.

Another member of the sub-committee, Chitra Lekha Yadav, who represents the Nepali Congress, said the opposition had made it clear that the bill should be forwarded on the basis of agreement reached with Dr KC.

Lawmakers dwelt on provisions in the bill, such as not allowing anyone to open medical colleges in Kathmandu valley for 10 years, providing affiliation to medical colleges only after 10 years, allowing new medical colleges only outside Kathmandu valley, upgrading the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife and CMA education so as to terminate these programmes within five years and doctors

studying on government scholarship having to compulsorily work in mountainous and remote districts for two years.

Coordinator of the sub-committee Bhairab Bahadur Singh told the panel that the sub-committee could not prepare its report as it failed to reach consensus.

The panel also extended the tenure of three sub-committees — study committees of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Ministry of Health and Population and Ministry of Youth and Sports — by 15 days.