DANG, July 6: On September 14, 2015, senior orthopedic surgeon Dr Govinda KC began his seventh hunger strike against the then government's negligence towards the past agreements reached between him and the government.
Addressing the demands of Dr KC, the then government led by Sushil Koirala came decided to establish a government medical college in each of the five development regions, starting with the establishment of a medical college in Dang.
However, the present government has not been able to implement the decision yet. A few days ago, Dr KC who is still on a fast-unto-death in Jumla said, “It's a pity that nothing has been done towards establishing the Rapti Academy of Health Sciences (RAHS), which was to be built in Dang.”
Dr KC had come to Dang to stage his 11th hunger strike against the government's negligence towards RAHS. But he was not allowed to do so. He returned to the capital after the then health minister Gagan Kumar Thapa promised to endorse the bill on RAHS. When Sher Bahadur Deuba was the prime minister, the RAHS Act was formulated and passed, and officials were designated too. The academy officials were in the process of moving forward with the plan.
However, the recently formed leftist government has now started creating hurdles in the academy's operation. As per the act, Rapti Sub-Regional Hospital and the academy were to be merged but the government decided to go against the act and its implementation claiming it to be incorrect. To facilitate this decision, the government also halted the admission of doctors and nurses a few months ago. 'A state minister level decision has ordered us to postpone interviews after admissions were halted', the academy issued a notice under the Health Ministry's directions.
Furthermore, none of the three levels of the present government has allocated budget for the academy, standing firmly against the academy, blatantly ignoring the act endorsed by the previous Nepali Congress-led government. The academy was not even mentioned in the policies and programs of the Fiscal Year 2018/19.
“The present government hasn't paid any attention to the Rapti Academy of Health Sciences which is in the best interest of educational development in the district,” Parwati DC Chaudhary, member of parliament from Nepali Congress said, “I have been raising this issue in parliament, but the government has been turning a deaf ear to the issue.”
The government was much criticized in the National Assembly too for its decision regarding RAHS. Anita Devkota, a member of the national assembly from Nepali Congress accused the present government of being extremely biased in allocating budget for the academy. “The government has shown its true colors by not allocating budget for the RAHS,” she said adding, “This is a huge mistake. They should have continued with the good decisions of the previous government.”
Not only the federal government but also the provincial government has ignored RAHS. Neither has it included the academy in its programs and policies for the upcoming fiscal year, nor has it allocated a single rupee for the academy in the budget. The provincial governmental is now being criticized for its negligence towards the academy which has been widely recognized as a project of pride for the province.
“It was surprising that no budget was allocated for RAHS,” member of provincial assembly Arjun Kumar Shrestha said, adding, “This issue was strongly raised in the provincial assembly too.”
Even the local government isn't supportive of the academy. Ghorahi Sub-Metropolitan city boycotted the meeting on the academy. Mayor Narulal Chaudhary was absent in the first meeting . He said, “It was after discussion with my colleagues that I decided to skip the meeting.”