KATHMANDU, July 28: If the government works sincerely to implement the agreement signed with Dr Govinda KC, it will not find it a tough task as it has a two-thirds majority in parliament. But without sincerity, it will be challenging to address some of the demands raised by Dr KC, the senior orthopedic surgeon and professor at the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The nine-point agreement signed by the government with Dr KC late on Thursday, the 27th day of his fast-unto-death, includes formation of a high-level commission and formulation of a Medical Education Act addressing all the demands raised by the crusading doctor, who has been on hunger strike for 190 days since 2012 to press for reforms in the medical sector. All of his demands were addressed in the agreement.
“If the government brings a Medical Education Act without any changes from the agreement and appoints a vice chairperson for a high-level commission who is of high moral standing, properly qualified and competent, almost all of the demands will be easily addressed,” said Dr Jivan Kshetry, a close supporter of Dr KC. “Otherwise, the agitating doctor will not make any compromises at all,” he added.
According to the agreement signed with Dr KC Thursday, implementation of the major demands will start within 15 days to two months.
The Medical Education Ordinance included a provision on 75 percent scholarships in government medical colleges, restriction on the issuing of affiliation to new medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley for 10 years, issuing of affiliations by one university to only five medical colleges, three-year operation of a hospital before a medical college qualifies for such affiliation, and the opening of at least one government medical college in all seven provinces.
“It’s another challenge to provide 75 percent scholarships to medical students in government colleges,” said Dr Kshetry. “Opening a government medical college in every province and managing them is no easy job,” he added.
“Converting Manmohan Memorial College into a government entity will also be a tough task if the owners do not accept the government proposal,” he added. Manmohan Memorial College is owned by leaders and cadres of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
Former minister Dr Banshidhar Mishra, founder and vice-chair of Manmohan Memorial Cooperatives, said that they would not shift the college outside Kathmandu Valley. “We are positive over the government agreement with Dr KC. Either Manmohan Memorial College should become a separate government entity or it should be merged with the Nepal Academy of Health Sciences as per a previous agreement with Dr KC,” he said. “We are ready to sell to the government if the price is reasonable,” he added. “However, an official decision is yet to be made.”
During his latest hunger strike, Dr KC presented a seven-point demand including bringing a Medical Education Act without any special changes, immediate commencement of MBBS classes at Karnali Academy of Health Sciences, immediate publicizing of the report of the medical probe commission led by Gauri Bahadur Karki and taking action against the culprits named, revoking of the ban on staging protests at Maitighar, and making the IOM autonomous.
Similarly, other demands are implementation of a report prepared by the officials’ standards determination committee headed by the chairperson of the University Grants Commission; compulsory service for two years for MD scholarship students; free MD classes in all private medical colleges; opening of government medical colleges in Province 2, at Panchthar-Ilam, Dadeldhura-Doti and in Udayapur; and expediting the work at Rapti Academy of Health Sciences and Geta Medical College.