KATHMANDU, Oct 9: It's already been four days since Dr Govinda KC launched his 13th fast-unto-death demanding the enactment of the Medical Education Act in order to streamline medical education in the country but the state continues to exhibit the lack of seriousness to address his demands.
As the government, as well as the political parties, did not take serious steps to introduce the Medical Education Act as per the spirit of the report prepared by the committee led by Professor Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University (TU), Dr KC launched his 13th hunger strike on October 5.
According to his family, Dr KC's health is critical with various problems such as chest pain, muscle cramps, urine deficiency, weakness and headache on the fourth day of his hunger strike. But without caring about his health, Dr KC has been continuously putting pressure on the government to improve medical education in the country.
The government had formed a panel headed by Prof Mathema to study the problems of the medical education sector and the panel submitted its report more than three years ago. However, no government since then has dared to implement the report due to pressure from certain vested interest groups.
“If the government did not want to implement the report, why did it form the panel in the first place?” Mathema wondered. “While preparing the report, we worked in the interest of the people and the nation. Now the government is preparing to bring the Medical Education Act by completely ignoring the spirit of our report,” said Mathema. “It seems that the political leaders are the lots who do not love the people of the country,” he added.
Observing that neither the teachers' unions nor the students have shown any concern about it, Professor Mathema said, “Dr KC alone has undauntedly been fighting for the people by putting his life at stake. If I were younger, I would definitely substitute Dr KC to stage the hunger strike for the cause. The people should come onto the streets to support Dr KC.”
When contacted for comments on Dr KC's 13th hunger strike, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minster Gopal Man Shrestha declined to comment and asked Republica to contact the ministry's spokesperson.
Dr Hari Prasad Lamsal, spokesman for the Ministry of Education, said that the Medical Education Bill had already been tabled at the parliamentary committee, which is responsible for moving the bill forward and endorsing it. “So far as fresh talks with Dr KC are concerned, the ministry is working internally for the preparation of the dialogue with him,” he added.
Dr KC postponed his 12th hunger strike which started on September 25 due to the Dashain festival, issuing a four-point memorandum to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on September 29.
The four-point demand includes bringing an integrated Medical Education Act immediately as per the recommendations of the Mathema Report, implementing government fee structure of Rs 3.85 million for MBBS in the Kathmandu Valley and Rs 4.25 million outside the Valley and Rs 1.932 million for BDS, sacking Dr Ramakanth Makaju, vice-chancellor of Kathmandu University (KU) and KU Dean Dr Rajendra Koju, fixing Rs 2.25 million for MD/MS education under TU, sacking TU officials who granted affiliation to Kathmandu National Medical College and revoking TU decisions which snatched the rights of IOM to grant affiliation and seats.
Similarly, Dr KC's other demands include fining sacked Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) Managing Director Gopal Khadka and probing other NOC officials involved in corruption after suspending them, allocating budget immediately to start classes at Karnali Academy of Medical and Health Sciences, proceeding works to establish government medical colleges in Kailali, Dang, Doti-Dadeldhura, Dhanusha-Mahottari, Udayapur, Panchthar-Terhathum among other places, and addressing the demands of Nepal Medical Association immediately.