Dr Govinda KC speaks to the media from his hospital bed at Karnali Academy of Health Sciences in Jumla on the seventh day of his fast-unto-death, Friday. Photo: Republica
KATHMANDU, July 7: Ignoring the demands of Dr Govinda KC, who has been staging a fast-unto-death, and protests from the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC), the government registered the much contested National Medical Education Bill in parliament on Friday, with all its controversial provisions intact.
The government had withdrawn the bill with these provisions earlier this week after the main opposition NC protested its fast-track endorsement and its deviations from the ordinance it was meant to replace.
The law on medical education lapsed from Thursday after the government failed to get the ordinance replacement bill within 60 days of the commencement of parliament.
The new bill paves the way for hospitals owned by leaders of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and businessmen close to it to run medical colleges that they own, without meeting the criteria recommended by the high-level Kedar Bhakta Mathema taskforce on medical policy.
The ordinance issued six months ago stated in its preamble that the replacement act will adhere to the recommendations of the taskforce. But the National Medical Education Bill 2075 BS does not mention anything about the Mathema taskforce and instead proposes another taskforce to suggest medical policy.
Amid all the protests, the new bill allows the opening of new medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley. This is contrary to the provision in the ordinance barring any additional medical college in the capital valley for the next 10 years. Despite protests, the government has also reduced the scholarship quota for medical education at public teaching institutions from 75 to 50 percent.
Ignoring the provision in the ordinance limiting affiliations from a given university to five medical colleges, the new bill has not proposed any such cap. According to the new proposal in the bill, any institution seeking medical college affiliation can establish a hospital just prior to applying for the affiliation. The ordinance had provisioned requiring such institutions to have been running a hospital for at least three years. This was also recommended by the taskforce.
Stakeholders said the new bill will favor some ruling NCP leaders and businessmen seeking affiliation for medical college in the Valley and Jhapa. Manmohan Memorial Hospital in Kathmandu, which has been seeking medical college affiliation, is owned by various NCP leaders including Rajendra Pandey.
Similarly, B&C Hospital in Jhapa is owned by businessman Durga Prasain, an NCP loyalist, and the Mediciti Hospital in Lalitpur is owned by Upendra Mahato, father-in-law of NCP minister Raghubir Mahaseth.
Likewise, the National Hospital in Kathmandu has also been seeking college affiliation with the backing of NCP leaders. The NCP leaders have been lobbying for 1affiliation for B&C, Mediciti and National.