EDITORIAL: Genuine demands

The new law must ensure that all medical colleges impart quality education with service motive

If the Legislature-Parliament passes the Medical Education Bill forwarded by the government and finalised by the parliamentary Women, Children, Elderly Citizen and Social Welfare Committee key demands of senior Dr. Govinda KC who is on a fast onto death for 11th time will not be addressed. The previous governments had promised to fulfill his demands related to regulating the medical education, affiliation to the medical colleges, evaluation and monitoring and admission of students on merit basis of the entrance examination to be taken by the Institute of Medicine. The parliamentary committee has given finishing touches to the Medical Education Bill in a way giving affiliation to six proposed medical colleges which have already received a Letter of Intent (LoI). They include the Manmohan Memorial College, Police, People’s Medical College, National Medical College, Ashwin Medical College and a Jhapa-based B&C Medical College. There will be five new medical colleges in the Kathmandu Valley and one outside the capital. It is learnt that these hospitals have fulfilled basic requirements set by the government and the Nepal Medical Council which takes licensing exams and determines the quota for medical colleges based on their performances, infrastructure and adequate faculties. One of the major demands of Dr. KC is to impose a ban on opening up new medical colleges in the Valley for 10 years.

But the bill to regulate the medical education or giving affiliation to new medical colleges by concerned universities has ignored KC’s demand and stated in the proposed Bill that the hospitals which have already got LoI from the Ministry of Education will be allowed to run medical colleges even in the Valley and the others are required to wait for ten years to get new affiliation. The Bill has also a provision in which one university will be allowed to give affiliation for a medical college in one district. But the Medical Education Bill has stated that more medical colleges can be opened depending on the density of population. Most universities, particularly TU and KU, have said that they cannot give

affiliation to more medical colleges as they do not have adequate resources to monitor the additional medical colleges.

Most of the demands raised by Dr. KC are genuine and concerned with public health, financing of the students and parents and ethics of medical education directly associated with people’s life. Most private hospitals seeking to run medical colleges have the sole motive of making profit selling medical certificates without any skills, knowledge and experience. There are already more than a dozen medical colleges running across the country. But their quality of education, infrastructure, faculties and human resources are below the standard set by the government, universities and NMC. Most of the medical colleges lack enough patients without which students cannot gain practical knowledge and experience. The monitoring and evaluation mechanism is so poor that no medical college has been penalized or punished for not making any efforts to improve the quality of education. Some medical colleges have enrolled students who had scored  poorly in entrance exams. Making a law is not enough. The new law must ensure that all medical colleges impart quality education with service motive.

Health hazard

Residents of Pokhara-Lekhnath Metropolitan City are being compelled to drink polluted water from the mains. The water is polluted because of damage done to the reservoirs and pipelines by frequent landslides together with the road expansion work being done there. As such, there is a possibility of    outbreak of waterborne diseases unless timely actions are taken. This is indeed a serious threat to public health and the matter should soon be taken up seriously and resolved immediately. The authorities have been providing contaminated water stored in the water tanks due to pressure from the locals to supply water despite the risks involved. There are no facilities for the purification of water and chlorine is being used to treat the water which is insufficient.

Bottled water which is safe to drink cannot be afforded by most of the Pokhara residents and they have no other option than to drink the contaminated water. The daily demand for water in Pokhara is about 65 million litres. The needful should be done to ensure that safe drinking water is made available as a matter of priority by setting up treatment plants.