Action plan

The authorities would also closely be monitoring the medical institutions to see to it that they have the required number of beds, infrastructure and equipment

A subcommittee formed to study, analyse and discuss with stakeholders the recommendations of the Mathema committee report on medical education has drawn up and submitted a detailed action plan to the Social Committee of the Cabinet. The sub-committee led by National Planning Commission member Yagya Bahadur Karki has included most of the recommendations of the Mathema committee report for implementation. The government has now decided to write to the concerned ministries for the prompt implementation of the action plan. The report of the commission is commendable by and large, and earnest implementation of its recommendations can improve the medical sector considerably. As of now, the vast majority of people are compelled to pay high fees for low quality health services.

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Among the Mathema panel recommendations, there are some for immediate implementation and others that need further study for implementation, according to the action plan. The latter relate to issues of affiliation, students’ quotas, MBBS fees, health professionals’ education commission, selection of leaders in medical education institutions, etc. The government has decided to establish at least one teaching hospital in each of the five development regions. The government will see to it that regional universities can provide affiliation to teaching hospitals within the respective regions only. It will also hold a common national entrance examination for medical studies, and ensure uniformity in some other aspects. The admission to the medical colleges will now on be based on merit basis, with the minimum necessary scores set at 60 per cent in the entrance exams. Subjects such as communication skills, critical thinking, moral science, humanities and behavioral science will also figure in these exams. It also sets a ceiling of Rs. 3.5 million on fees necessary to complete the MBBS course, along with ceilings on fees for nursing and dentistry studies. According to the action plan, MD courses will now cost no more than Rs. 4 million.

Another thing of the report that needs mention is that the government is encouraging the private sector to open more medical colleges in various districts, excluding Kathmandu. It has decided to provide the private teaching hospitals with incentives such as land lease and tax remission. These are positive steps. A yardstick has been set for the colleges which fail to achieve more than 75 per cent marks for two years in a row to enhance the quality of education being provided. If they fail to do so they would no longer be allowed to operate. The authorities would also closely be monitoring the medical institutions to see to it that they have the required number of beds, infrastructure and equipment. At present, many medical and nursing colleges appear to lack these. It is a good decision not to implement all the recommendations immediately because there are certain aspects which need more time and deliberation and some necessary changes to get best results.

Solar energy

The state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has sought a five-year guarantee from the supplier of solar panels and equipment for a 25-Megawatt solar power project to be funded by the World Bank Group (WBG). The WBG has agreed to fund $50 million for the installation of 25MW solar powered energy to be connected to the national grid to reduce shortage of power and leakage. The project was supposed to be completed by September this year. But frequent protests by the NEA employees and aftermath of the April 25 earthquake hampered the execution of the solar-powered project.

The main objective of the project is to evacuate the solar-powered energy during the daytime and save water of the Kulekhani Reservoir to be used only for night hours. The project aims to generate 30 Gigawatt hours of energy per year. Nepal is situated in a suitable climate for solar-powered plant as it receives 10 hours of sunlight on the average. The solar-powered plants can be installed in the unused land of a number of hydropower projects managed by NEA and it does not need additional land. The NEA should use such land for renewable energy.

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