EDITORIAL: Positive move

Qualification of many students who pass out from private medical schools has proved to be dismal with many failing to pass even the licensing exams

An ordinance on medical science education has been endorsed by the Cabinet Monday and a decision was reached by it to send it to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari who would be providing it with the needful authentication. The ordinance covers all the recommendations which was made by the Kedar Bhakta Mathema-led panel and also the suggestions made by Dr Govinda KC. The good doctor, a senior orthopedic surgeon at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, had staged his 13th fast-unto-death protesting and demanding an end to the irregular practices that has been crippling the health and medical education sectors. Furthermore, he had warned the government that he would be protesting again if it failed to endorse the bill through an ordinance. Dr KC has been holding his fast-unto-death repeatedly after previous governments failed to uphold the implementation of the amendments they were committed to.

The ordinance incorporates the recommendations by the Mathema-led panel. The Medical Science Education Bill does not permit the opening of a new medical college in the Kathmandu Valley for 10 years. This will have far reaching consequences in the health sector. Ten years is a long time and furthermore the time limit set could backfire as more better hospitals and colleges could be run in the meantime. It is important to mull about this no matter how good the intention might be. However, other features of the ordinance should be welcomed. For example, a hospital has to run for at least three years if it is to be eligible to be granted a medical college affiliation. Also to be taken positively are measures which include that a university has to have its own medical college and hospital to grant affiliation to open a new medical college. A university is allowed to grant affiliation to only five colleges based in the same province as the university.

Since medical education can be expensive the ordinance also provides for allocating 75 per cent of the seats in government medical colleges with scholarships. This provision would also ensure that bright students would not be deprived of the opportunity of studying medicine for financial reasons. More scholarships would be made available gradually over a period of time. The qualifications of many students who pass from private medical schools has proved to be dismal with many failing to pass the licensing exams before they are granted the permission to medical practice. This is something to be concerned about because it raises the question of the quality of doctors passing out from private medical colleges. The Mathema-led panel seeks to address these issues in the larger interest of the health and medical sectors in the country. Preferably there should be at least one government hospital in all the seven provinces of the country. Dr KC should be commended for his resolve to improve the quality of health and medical education and to deal with the so-called medical mafia intent on making profits by indulging in irregular practices. Let us hope that the ordinance will pass through next Parliament for which elections are being held.

Carcass menace

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and its adjoining municipalities are facing the problem of managing carcasses due to lack of a proper mechanism and landfill site for their burial or disposal. An organization which won a Rs. 1.8 million contract to manage the dead animals from KMC has not been able to dispose of the carcasses for lack of landfill sites. The dead animal cannot be disposed of at the garbage disposal site.

Due to lack of a burial site, the organization is compelled to bury the dead animals on the roadside or on the river banks which cause environmental problems, and such practice poses serious health threats. It also takes a long time for the bones of the dead animals to decompose. The KMC, along with other municipalities, must formulate a long-term plan to manage the carcasses. Animal bones and skins can be a good source of income if a processing plant is set up at a proper location. Crushed bones can be used as feed for fowls and fertilizer while the skins not gangrened can be exported after semi-processing. KMC must encourage the private sector to set up such plants.