EDITORIAL: Illegal affiliation

The probe committee must take all these accusations into consideration while carrying out its necessary investigation

The Tribhuvan University Executive Council had granted affiliation to the Kathmandu National Medical College in Kathmandu on July 27 to run the MBBS programme even while Dr. Govinda KC was staging a fast-unto death for the 11th time. It is alleged that the said medical college is operating without the approval from the Ministry of Health (MoH). The MoH has formed an investigation committee comprising eight members, and the committee has been given seven days to submit its report. Probes would be carried out to see if the said hospital had met the requirements to run the classes. In the meantime, the Ministry of Education had granted approval to operate the hospital. Documents were presented by the Kathmandu National Medical College to this effect to the MoH that it had been permitted to run a 300-bed hospital on June 22, 2012. According to a spokesperson of the Ministry of Education the Education Ministry is not authorized to grant such approval.  The medical college was refused affiliation to run the MBBS classes thrice in 2011, 2015 and 2017.

This was because the medical college had failed to provide the required documents, which included the environmental impact assessment report as well as the necessary recommendations from the District Public Health Office. The college also has drawn flak for not possessing an insurance for the period of six-year as required by the stipulated guideline. Moreover, it has failed to show that the hospital building possesses an earthquake resilient infrastructure.  The medical college is required to have proof of being seismic resistant from the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction.  The medical college is an extension of National Medical College, Birgunj.

The country needs reforms in the country’s medical education sector. The TU office bearers are often accused of being cadres of the political parties. Therefore, medical colleges are used to serve the interests of some corrupt politicians and businessmen. The government should annul the affiliation granted to Kathmandu National Medical College without fail. However, the government seems to be the least bothered about these anomalies despite the criticisms from all sectors. As per the understanding reached, the decision of the affiliation should be taken by the Health Profession Education Commission, and that there should be no new medical colleges inside Kathmandu Valley for the next 10 years.  PM Deuba, Chancellor of TU is therefore expected to take stern action against the Vice-Chancellor Tirtha Khania. There are strong evidence of corruption in the medical education sector. It is alleged that the affiliation was granted in collusion with the concerned stakeholders and the college has been operating illegally without approval from Ministry of Health (MoH). The probe committee therefore must take all these accusations into consideration while carrying out necessary investigation as to whether it has sufficient staff and infrastructure the medical college claims to have. Preliminary reports suggest that staff and infrastructure are lacking contrary to the claims of the college. Medical colleges should meet the stringent criteria set and they should also be constantly monitored.

Protect Khaptad

The Khaptad National Park spread over four hilly districts of Doti, Bajhang, Achham and Bajura is in danger due to overgrazing, erosion of soil and caving-in of the top meadows. The picturesque mountain top popular for trekking, tourism and pilgrimage needs urgent protection from losing its natural beauty and habitat for endangered flora and fauna. Khaptad Area Tourism Development Committee officials have warned that the natural beauty of the Khaptad National Park will lose its charm if no long-term measure is taken to protect the 52 meadows.

The protected area has been threatened by wild boars that dig the meadows for food. This wild animal in particular pose a threat to the existence of the meadows and natural beauty of the area causing landslides, caving-in and soil erosion. A large number of domestic cattle are also taken to the area for grazing. Such practices must be stopped to protect the area from human encroachment. The concerned authorities must work out a plan of action to keep its natural beauty in collaboration with local communities whose condition of living can be improved through tourism if it is well protected.