What will happen to Dr Govinda KC? Will the government address his demands? Will his life be saved? For 27 days since the senior orthopedic surgeon of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital started hunger strike, his 15th in a row, on June 30, these questions had troubled the general public. At times, it seemed, the government of K P Oli was apathetic toward the call for broader reforms in Nepal’s medical education and the entire health sector and as much apathetic toward his deteriorating health conditions. That was why protests started against the government in and outside Kathmandu. The agreement between the government and the team of Dr KC on Thursday evening comes as a big relief for us all. Dr KC’s life has been saved and the path to reforms in medical education sector has been finally paved. The government deserves appreciation for heeding the noble cause, albeit late. Prime Minister Oli himself was closely involved in the negotiation which broke the hunger strike of Dr KC and it has raised new hope that Dr KC won’t have to resort to hunger strike for the same cause again. Thank you, Prime Minister.
In the nine-point agreement, the government has agreed to fulfill all demands of Dr KC including a 10-year moratorium on establishment of new medical college in Kathmandu Valley, which had remained the major bone of contention. As per the new agreement, no private college will be allowed to establish in Kathmandu Valley for ten years. Those which have already received the Letters of Intent for establishing medical colleges in the valley can sell their property to the government or shift to priority areas outside the valley and such colleges will be provided incentives. They have also agreed to amend 22 provisions in National Medical Education Bill. As per the agreement, a two-member taskforce will be formed to run MBBS and other bachelor’s level medicine courses at Karnali Academy of Health Sciences immediately, and action against those found guilty by Medical Education Probe Commission (2017) will be started within two months. Agreement has been reached to form a taskforce to fix criteria for appointment of the office bearers at universities and various government-run academies. There has been assurance that these agreements will be soon endorsed by the parliament.
However, there is a lingering doubt that the government might once again backtrack on those agreements because this is what has happened so far. Every government in the past held talks with Dr KC, promised to fulfill his demands and signed agreements. But none of the governments, including the one led by current prime minister in 2015, implemented those agreements, which is why Dr KC had to resort to 15th fast-unto-death. We hope and believe Prime Minister Oli will not resort to deceive and delay tactics with Dr KC. The prime minister has done a remarkable job by showing willingness to address Dr KC’s demands and signing agreements to that effect. He will be appreciated in true sense when agreements are implemented and when we do not create the situation whereby an old Satyagrahi does not have to put his life on the line for the cause the government should advance and implement unasked. Our political class has put Dr KC in troubles way too many times. May it never happen again!