KATHMANDU, July 20: Hundreds of patients at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) suffered the consequences Tuesday as resident doctors pursuing MD/MS degrees under the Institute of Medicine (IoM) shunned the out-patient department (OPD).
Accusing the authorities of turning a deaf ear to the demands of Dr Govinda KC and ignoring his deteriorating medical condition, the resident doctors have decided to boycott the OPD services for an indefinite period starting Tuesday. Dr KC has been on a fast-unto-death since the past 10 days.
Patients who reached TUTH for medical care were compelled to wait for hours to be attended to by the doctors. Doctors active at the hospital cannot treat all the patients as it is the resident doctors who attend to a majority of the patients. Around 2,000 patients from across the country visit TUTH every day for quality care at affordable rates.
Protesting doctors, who shun the OPD services to pile pressure on the government to heed Dr KC's demands, are however continuing the in-patient services, emergency care and services at the intensive care units (ICU) and coronary care units (CCU).
The TUTH administration claimed that senior doctors at the hospital attended to patients at the OPD on Tuesday. "We senior doctors tried our best to provide care to the patients," Dr Deepak Mahara, director at TUTH, claimed. He concedes that the senior doctors alone cannot attend to all the patients in the coming days. "The help of resident doctors is definitely important to ensure care for all the patients who come to our hospital," said Dr Mahara.
For the past few days, doctors have been wearing black arm bands while treating patients, to draw the attention of the authorities to Dr KC's demands and to his deteriorating condition.
IoM asks PM to respond to Dr KC's demands
Meanwhile, IoM on Tuesday formally requested Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to respond to the demands put forth by Dr Govinda KC.
The IOM Dean's Office has sent a formal letter to PM Oli drawing his attention to the deteriorating health condition of Dr KC and to the boycott of OPD services by resident doctors.
"Today we sent a formal letter to the prime minister through the dean's office and requested him to respond to Dr KC's demands," TUTH Director Dr Mahara formed. He said that the ongoing hunger strike by Dr KC would affect not only TUTH but also the Manmohan Cardiothoracic Vascular and Transplant Center and the BP Koirala Lions Center for Ophthalmic Studies.
Meanwhile, resident and under-graduate students pursuing medical degrees under IoM have staged a protest near Baluwatar, the official resident of the prime minister, to draw his attention to the deteriorating condition of Dr KC. Police arrested 12 doctors and medical students for violating a prohibited area. The arrested doctors were released in the evening.
Dr KC's condition not satisfactory
The general condition of Dr KC is not satisfactory, according to doctors attending to him.
Dr KC continues to experience dizziness, off/on chest pains and muscle cramps. At times he suffers from shortness of breath. His blood sugar is low.
"He is at increased risk of infections," a health bulletin issued by Dr Dibya Singh Shah, who is attending to Dr KC, reads. The bulletin further says that his blood pressure remains low and fluctuating and he needs oxygen supply continuously to maintain oxygen saturation in the blood.
"Considering his present situation, his condition may deteriorate further and need emergency medical management anytime," the bulletin fuirther states.
Dr KC started his eighth hunger strike, putting forth his four-point demand that includes reform in the medical education sector and impeachment of Lokman Singh Karki, chief commissioner of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).
He has also demanded that all seats at medical universities run by the government be made free, at least one government medical college be established in all the federal provinces, no affiliation be given to any medical, dental or nursing college in Kathmandu Valley for the next 10 years, and fee ceilings be implemented from this year as fixed by the Ministry of Education, the universities and Nepal Medical Council.
Dr KC has also demanded recall of the bill tabled at Parliament to turn the Manmohan Medical College into an academy, and the implementation of past agreements.