Doctors starting relay hunger strike from today

Published On: January 28, 2019 07:28 AM NPT

KATHMANDU, Jan 28: After Prime Minister KP Oli dismissed the demands of medical reforms crusader Dr Govinda KC, doctors across the country have decided to launch their relay hunger strike from Monday to express solidarity with Dr KC, who is on a fast-unto-death for the past 19 days.

Prime Minister Oli, after his return home from Switzerland on Saturday, told the media that he had nothing to say about Dr KC’s demands. “There are 30 million people in the country and some of them can have different opinions. Media does not need to give priority to such issues,” he said dismissing Dr KC’s demand for the implementation of the July 26, 2018 agreement, which was signed at the initiative of the prime minister himself. 

On the other hand, Nepal Medical Association (NMA), the professional organization of doctors, has decided to stage a relay hunger strike starting Monday supporting Dr KC. On Sunday, the doctors gathered at the place where Dr KC has been staging his hunger strike and made the announcement.

Dr Mukti Ram Shrestha, president of the NMA, said that doctors could go to any extent to save Dr KC. “The government is going in the opposite direction instead of resolving the problems,” said Dr Shrestha. “Now the time has come to stand up in support of Dr KC,” he added. “As part of our protests, we will stage relay hunger strike from Monday.”

The relay hunger strike will affect the hospitals across the country, according to the NMA.
Meanwhile, the 27 civil society leaders on Sunday issued a joint statement saying that the new Medical Education Bill has ignored the agreement signed with Dr KC. “Our serious attention has been drawn toward the issue,” the statement read. “It has also raised questions over the credibility of the state.”

The civil society leaders have urged the National Assembly to make amendments to the Medical Education Bill as per the promise made by the government to Dr Govinda KC.

The civil society members making the request include former chief justice Sushila Karki, ex-vice chancellor of Tribhuvan University Prof Kedar Bhakta Mathema, innovator Mahabir Pun, Prof Abhi Subedi, former chief election commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel, former vice chairperson of National Planning Commission Swarnim Wagle, pilot Bijaya Lama, fiction writer Krishna Dharabasi, Prof Jayaraj Acharya, Prof Mana Prasad Wagle, Durga Subedi, Kapil Shrestha and senior journalist Bhairav Risal.

Likewise, the other members making the request include Dr Raamesh Koirala, Prof Birendra Kumar Mishra, Rabindra Singh Baniya, lyricist Yadav Kharel, former vice chair of NPC Govinda Raj Pokharel, researcher Pratyush Onta, journalist Shekhar Kharel, Ram Kumar Bhandari, Phanindra Luitel, Dinesh Prasai, Sabitri Shrestha, Gita Rasaili, Devi Sunuwar and Gopal Shah.

Likewise, Nepali Congress lawmaker and former health minister Gagan Thapa warned on Sunday that his party will continue its struggle until the Medical Education Bill is amended to address Dr KC’s demands.
Meanwhile, the Solidarity for Dr KC Alliance staged a street march in Kathmandu on Sunday to pressure the government to fulfill Dr KC’s demands. The march started from Maitighar and concluded at New Baneshwar of Kathmandu.

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