The next step forwardTU’s decision to rescind its misinformed decision on KNMC was much needed
It seems that Nepal’s medical care and education system is finally moving in a positive direction, albeit slowly. On September 3, Tribhuvan University’s Executive Council decided to put the decision of affiliating the Kathmandu National Medical College (KNMC) on hold. And now, TU has officially rescinded the affiliation.
Responding to allegations that the approval of KNMC’s affiliation on July 27 was based on falsified reports, TU last week formed an inspection committee to investigate claims. What the committee discovered—a medical college established in a residential apartment in Ghattekulo, void of doctors, patients, or staff—revealed the obvious fact that KNMC did not meet even the basic criteria required for affiliation. Furthermore, the facility is not registered with the Health Ministry and lacks the infrastructure and human resources required for a medical college.
A mandate by the Supreme Court declares that the TU council can only grant affiliation if medical colleges fulfil necessary requirements; a special inspection team is required to issue a recommendation vouching that the medical college is up to par. But the effects of corruption in Nepal are far-reaching. This has been made increasingly evident by the discovery that the Dr Kabir Nath Yogi-led committee that inspected KNMC falsified their report, granting the decidedly subpar facility with permission to run medical courses.
KNMC is an extension of the Birgunj-based National Medical College (NMC), a college that recently gained notoriety for refusing to admit postgraduate students on the Institute of Medicines merit list. NMC also did not follow the Supreme Court’s mandate that all medical colleges under the TU umbrella charge students fees aligned to TU’s standards, instead of charging exorbitant fees. It should be noted that both these colleges are owned by Basruddin Ansari, who is the mayoral candidate for CPN-UML in Birgunj in the upcoming local elections. The allowances afforded these two colleges are clear indications of the prevalence of cronyism in the medical education sector.
The TU council drew considerable ire for voting for the affiliation of the apartment building turned medical school on the basis of a falsified inspection. This decision generated even greater backlash because it was made while Dr KC was on his 11th hunger strike in a fight against corruption and cronyism in healthcare and medical education in the country.
Against this backdrop, the TU council’s decision to scrap the affiliation and rescind what was essentially a misinformed and illegal decision was a much needed step. It also restores a modicum of faith in the medical care and education system, but more remains to be done. An investigation should be mounted on how the inspection report came to be falsified, and the guilty should be strictly punished. Lawmakers need to band together to pass the Health Profession Education Bill to ensure that such self-serving and subversive moves do not recur. Political parties must set aside self-interests and pass this seemingly pro-people Bill based on recommendations of the Mathema report.