Six governments, 19 hunger strikes, 227 days and counting. Dr KC’s modest demands have been ignored

Published On: September 17, 2020 08:58 AM NPT By: Ashim Neupane  | @ashimnep

Senior orthopedic surgeon’s 19th hunger strike in Jumla has a six-point demand

KATHMANDU, Sep 15: Senior orthopedic surgeon Dr Govinda KC started his 19th hunger strike in Jumla on Monday, demanding reforms in the medical sector. As of Thursday, Dr KC has already staged 18 fast-unto-death for a total of 227 days in the last eight years.

Although every government signs agreements with Dr KC to end his hunger strike, they are never implemented, forcing Dr KC to stage hunger strike again and again. “The government has always agreed to fulfill my demands, but the promises have never been implemented. This fast-unto-death is my decisive battle for reforms in the medical sector,” said Dr KC, before starting his 19th hunger strike in Chandannath Municipality-6 in Jumla.

Dr KC’s major demands with the government is the amendment of the Medical Education Act. On July 26, 2018, during his 15th hunger strike, the government agreed to fulfill his demands by making necessary amendments in the Act.

“Dr KC has always fought for reforms in the medical sector. But governments have always been reluctant to fulfil the promises,” said Pritam Subedi, an aide to Dr KC.

He has staged fast-unto-deaths seven times during Nepali Congress-led government, 10 times during communist rule, and two times during Khila Raj Regmi’s government.

He is currently demanding MBBS classes at Karnali Academy of Health Sciences at the earliest. To ensure that people in the rural areas get medical education, KC has also demanded the government establish medical colleges in Province 2, Gandaki Province, Doti or Dadeldhura, Udayapur and Illam or Panchthar. Likewise, he is also demanding that the government start academic sessions in Geta Medical College and Rapti Academy of Health Sciences by sending the needed human resource.

Speaking to Republica on the condition of anonymity, an official at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said that Dr KC has been fighting for reforms in the medical sector since long, but the successive governments have always supported the medical mafias. “Competent students who are not financially strong are deprived of medical education. Only economically sound students get to enroll in medical schools,” said the official, who is not allowed to talk against the government.

To ensure that competent students get an opportunity to go to medical school, Dr KC has demanded that medical colleges allocate 75 percent of their total seats for scholarships.

During Dr KC’s second hunger strike, the government had agreed to make appointments at the Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine on the basis of merits. “But the government appointed a dean at IOM against the spirit of the agreement. The government has also appointed a party cadre as the executive director of the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. These practices destroy the medical sector,” said Dr KC, adding that medical institutions should never be recruitment centers for political parties.

Likewise, Dr KC has also demanded the government ensure free treatment at Bayalpata Hospital in Achham by allocating the necessary budget.

In the last eight years, KP Sharma Oli, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Susheel Koirala, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Khil Raj Regmi and Baburam Bhattarai came to power. They all made agreements with the doctor, but the implementation part has been slow at best. “Dr KC has staged hunger strikes during communists and Nepali Congress governments. He wants to bring reforms in the medical sector,” added Subedi.   

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