EDITORIAL: Save Dr KC’s life

Saving Dr KC’s life should be govt’s topmost priority, and the best way to go forward will be withdrawing the replacement bill pronto

Senior orthopaedic surgeon Dr Govinda KC is on fast-on-to-death in Jumla for the last 19 days. This is his 15th hunger strike demanding reforms in the medical education sector that has been in disorder since the government allowed opening private medical colleges in the country. Dr KC has now demanded that the replacement bill related to Nepal Medical Education Ordinance be tabled without making any changes in the ordinance brought by the then Sher Bahadur Deuba government in October last year after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly which also doubled as the Legislature-Parliament. He has been demanding that ordinance on Nepal Medical Education be replaced by the new bill as it is, as it has rightly addressed the suggestions pointed out by the Kedar Bhakta Mathema-led panel formed by the government on July 8, 2015. The Mathema panel has come up with a number of suggestions which, among others, include imposing a 10-year moratorium on opening new medical colleges in the Kathmandu Valley and not allowing a university to give its affiliation to more than five medical colleges. These are two major issues that were removed by the Ministry of Education when it brought a replacement bill on Nepal Medical Education Ordinance.

The main opposition Nepali Congress has been obstructing the House over the replacement bill, which, it has said, has killed the true spirit of the Mathema-led panel, simply to fulfil vested interests of a handful of “medical mafia” who want to profiteer in the name of providing medical education in the country. The government on Tuesday formed a three-member talks team led by Khaga Raj Baral, secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, to hold talks with Dr KC’s representatives led by Dr Mukti Ram Shrestha, president of National Medical Association (NMA). It is learnt that the government talks team had asked the Shrestha-led team to produce an authentic letter showing they were representing Dr KC while holding talks with the government team. If this is the case for not being able to hold formal talks, both sides must overcome the mutual suspicions.

Dr KC’s health condition is deteriorating due to poor health service facility available in Jumla from where he does not want to be airlifted to the Capital. What the government needs to understand is that it is holding talks with its own citizens, not with an outsider. Saving Dr KC’s life should be the government’s topmost priority. The best option available will be to withdraw the replacement bill for the time being and re-table it only after both the sides reach a mutual understanding on it. Parliament should also be given ample time to discuss it and, if need be, it can also be taken to people seeking their feedbacks as per the parliamentary rules. Besides implementing the Mathema-panel’s recommendations the government must also take legal action against the officials of Nepal Medical Council, TU and KU as per the retired judge Gauri Bahadur Karki-led three-member Medical Education Probe Commission, which submitted its report to then PM Deuba. It has recommended legal action against 43 officials who played foul while giving affiliation to medical colleges.

Vaccinate all

Nepal’s efforts to save lives through immunisation have been well received. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Nepal has been making impressive efforts to achieve full immunisation at sub-district level. But still, there is no room for complacency. More needs to be done to reach the unvaccinated children. Immunisation is a process of making a person immune or resistant to infectious diseases, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Immunisation a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases.

To reach out to all the children, who may be deprived of vaccines due to various reasons including geographical, social and cultural, the government has made immunisation a high priority. Under the National Immunisation Programme, the government carries out nationwide vaccination programmes through outreach activities. Hard-to-reach areas must be mapped out and if there are any social or cultural barriers for children to access vaccines, they need to be addressed. Immunisation is right of all children; no child should be deprived of vaccination.