Medical colleges: The mathematics

Nobody has the guts to speak when Dr KC is not holding his protests. Some of us even remain silent while he is holding protests. Now is the time to look in the mirror and support the truth and develop compassion

Medical colleges were shown recently to keep fake patients for claiming more seats to admit medical students.

It takes around NRs. 40 lakh for a person to pursue medical education and become a doctor in Nepal without scholarship. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has allocated ten per cent of its seats in every private medical college for scholarship.

Keeping in mind the government medical colleges, this implies that more than eighty percent of the medical doctors in Nepal are forced to pay a hefty sum to pursue their education in medicine.

Herein lies the reason why Prof Dr Govinda KC has held a fast unto death several times. NRs 40 lakh is not a sum that most people can afford.

More than ten thousand examinees attend a scholarship test each year to study in national medical colleges, including the private medical colleges. Out of them, only around three hundred students get the chance to study with scholarships.

What happens to the rest? There are two options for serious medical career pursuers. One is to wait for the next year to attend more exams and the next is to gather the money, take loans and anyhow gather a hefty sum to get admitted to the colleges.

I being a medical student myself have seen both of them a lot. It’s shocking to say that there are some students who wait for even four successive years to succeed in one of the scholarship tests.

This however doesn’t apply to rich parents who compel their children to enroll in a medical school for fame, and the students do so likewise.

Medical colleges would be a huge boon to our nation had they been legitimate. Legitimacy is always missing in Nepal, isn’t it? Medical colleges must compulsorily have hospitals that provide medical services to the people.

That would be great. But the proprietors of private medical colleges can earn a lot instantly. Forty lakh rupees per person is a hefty deal they can acquire. And who doesn’t want to earn money? There are some criteria, although nominal in Nepal, to establish and run a medical college set by the Government of Nepal.

They should have ample space, laboratories, good hospitals with high bed occupancy, and so on. By further inspection from the university and Nepal Medical Council (NMC), they are given permission to run their “business”.

The first process is for the government to approve the building of medical colleges. The second is to get affiliation from respective universities to run the program, and the third is to get seats allocated by Nepal Medical Council (NMC) to admit students.

There is illegitimacy and pollution in all steps. Here is a simple chemistry of what happens. The proprietors bribe the parties in government and personnel to get permission to build medical colleges. Being interested in the “business” nowadays some leaders themselves wish to invest.

In the second step of getting affiliation, the same formula works again. Bribery satiates the university personnel and they give the affiliation.

It’s as simple as that. In the third step of allocating seats, the scenario is quite different and interesting. Remember that more seats mean more students and more students mean more money in the pocket.

Nepal Medical Council (NMC) confirms the number of seats by analyzing the hospital conditions, patients’ influx, laboratories, doctors’ availability and professors’ availability and so on.

These ‘intelligent’ creatures now play more diligently. Fake patients are “ordered” from various places of the country to fulfill bed occupancy criteria during inspection seasons. To them, it’s easier than ordering a pizza.

Fake professors are kept to show everything is going fine.

The Nepalese film industry would prosper and would hit Academy Awards had such brilliant actors been in the film industry. Accept it or not, this is exactly what’s happening.

One would say more medical colleges would be fruitful for they provide medical care to the general population. It would be true had they been legitimate.

There are seven medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley alone. More are still in the pipeline for the Kathmandu Valley, waiting to get affiliation. There are however none in the rural areas. People die of diseases as simple as diarrhea, and there is no one to establish medical colleges in the rural areas.

Why should they be built in Kathmandu? The reason is simple. Kathmandu is the center of the country where more actors are available at a cheaper price.

This is exactly where Prof Dr Govinda KC steps in.

His demands are simple enough. He demands to block the affiliation the government is granting in the city areas and wants to decentralize the medical efficiency to every part of the country evenly.

He also demands that the fees taken by the impertinent owners should be reduced. Those devourers are intelligent but not intelligent enough to reckon that there can be one person standing in their way.

Most of us may pretend that we are not like those leaders. But, most of us are exactly the same, a little less in intensity but we are alike. Nobody has the guts to speak when Dr KC is not holding his protests. Some of us even remain silent while he is holding protests.

Now is the time to look in the mirror and support the truth and develop compassion. We remain busy in our own lives, wanting to devour more just like them. We are to blame the most, believe it or not.

The writer is a medical student in the Institute of Medicine, Maharajgunj