Honour dealDr Govinda KC broke his hunger strike on the 22nd day on Sunday morning after he reached a 12-point agreement with the government the previous night.
Dr Govinda KC broke his hunger strike on the 22nd day on Sunday morning after he reached a 12-point agreement with the government the previous night. As public concern about KC’s health and anger over the government’s reluctance to come to an agreement were mounting, many breathed a sigh of relief when the two sides finally struck a deal. We urge the government to stick to its commitment to enforce the deal, in accordance with the statement issued by a member of the government talks team.
This is crucial since there is a frustrating pattern to such deal-making. This was the 10th and the longest hunger strike in the last four years by Dr KC, who has remained steadfast in his determination to bring about necessary reforms in the country’s medical education sector. Successive governments have offered equally staunch resistance to an agreement. Even after an agreement is eventually signed after days into the hunger strike, implementation has been a fiasco.
There are a few reasons for the government’s reluctance to implement past agreements with Dr KC, but one stands out. There exists a dirty nexus between the political establishment and the medical fraternity. One of KC’s long-standing demands is to stop granting new affiliations to medical institutions before the Health Profession Education Bill is endorsed by Parliament. This is a major obstacle, for example, for Kathmandu’s National Medical College, an extension of the Birgunj-based National Medical College, which allegedly has big investments from cadres of the CPN (Maoist Centre). It is no wonder that many politicians are fighting tooth-and-nail to block passage of the bill or to pass a watered-down version of it.
Dr KC’s years-long advocacy for reforms in medical education has earned him such politicians’ wrath but considerable popular support. On Saturday morning, for example, hundreds of protestors had marched in Kathmandu as a gesture of solidarity with Dr KC. Anger with politicians has also mounted in recent times amid reports of their frequent medical sojourns abroad at the tax payers’ expense.
The government’s habitual failure to honour its deal and implement past agreements with the senior orthopaedic surgeon is largely responsible for his repeated fasts-onto-death. The good doctor has consistently and firmly maintained that he would not hesitate to launch more hunger strikes if the government continued to drag its feet over his demands.
As such, the onus lies on the government to make sure that the good doctor will not be compelled to stage his 11th hunger strike. A government that fails to keep its word over and over again loses legitimacy. We hope the latest agreement settles the issue.