We now know how our leaders, lawmakers and individuals in the position of power work to derail and dilute the agreements reached repeatedly with senior orthopedic surgeon Dr. Govinda KC. He has been demanding sweeping reforms in Nepal’s medical education and health sector. Despite several agreements to address the demands, they have hardly been implemented. Dr. KC’s 11th hunger strike from July 24 is now entering on its 14th day on Sunday, putting his own life at risk. The government of Pushpa Kamal Dahal last year had agreed to bring the Manmohan Adhikari Institute of Health Sciences (MAIHS) under the National Academy of Medical Sciences through the process of acquisition and rename NAMS as Manmohan Memorial National Academy of Medical Sciences. Based on the same agreement, a cabinet meeting on September 29, 2016 had decided to withdraw the bill from the parliament. The agreement was reached to address KC’s demand against issuing affiliation to any new medical colleges in Kathmandu for the next ten years. Nearly a year after the cabinet decision,
Republica reported that instead of returning the bill to the government, Ranju Jha, the head of a parliamentary committee, was hiding the letter from the Ministry of Health that asked the parliament to withdraw the MAIHS bill.
The letter was kept so secret that top officials at the parliament secretariat had to carry out an inquiry within the parliament secretariat about its whereabouts. Some members of the committee were surprised to find out this reality. At first, parliament’s Women Children and Social Welfare Committee Chairperson Jha and the committee officials denied her complicity and lied to Republica journalist. Upon repeated inquiry and producing several evidence, she admitted to hiding the important document, keeping not only the public but also concerned officials and other stakeholders in the dark. Everyone thought that the bill had already been withdrawn and even Dr KC stopped raising the demand for MAIHS bill withdrawal.
This is an act of betrayal to the cause Dr. KC is fighting for and the cause for which there is huge support from the civil society, media and the general public. Such an act by the chairperson of a parliamentary committee is an abuse of her authority. While a parliamentary committee head is supposed to remain above partisan interests, Jha, however, appears to work at the interest of a private institution where a dozen of key UML leaders have made huge investments. Seven members of her committee are members of the Manmohan Hospital. There is a clear evidence of conflict of interest among the head and members of the committee. And, now it’s upon the parliament speaker to step in to take the needed action. Ranju Jha must be held responsible for abusing her authority by hiding an important document and obstructing the process to implement an important agreement reached earlier with Dr. KC. The political leaders who support this nefarious deed also own an explanation to the people.