Govt flouts two crucial agreements signed with Dr KCThe government has been dragging its feet on implementing the agreements signed with Dr Govinda KC.
The government has been dragging its feet on implementing the agreements signed with Dr Govinda KC.
Recent developments show that the government has been working against the spirit of the agreements reached with the orthopaedic surgeon who has staged indefinite hunger strikes close to a dozen times seeking reforms in the medical education sector.
One of the deals signed with the fasting doctor in December last year was granting autonomy to the Institute of Medicine of Tribhuvan University. However, a Senate meeting of the TU on January 4 decided to curtail the jurisdiction of the IoM in determining seats at medical colleges and the course fees.
The Senate meeting gave more teeth to the TU Executive Committee, limiting the powers of the IoM faculty board. The prime minister, in his capacity as the TU chancellor, and Education Minister Dhani Ram Poudel, pro-chancellor of the university, were involved in the latest decision.
“We are shocked to see how lightly the government is taking our commitment to quality medical education and the long fight for it,” said Dr KC.
Another deal concerned medical fees. MBBS courses in Kathmandu Valley would cost Rs3.8 million while colleges outside would be authorised to charge students up to Rs4.2 million. This was gravely violated as medical colleges denied admission to students at first, forcing them to pay as much as Rs5 million eventually for the five-and-a-half-year course. The medical college syndicate denied admissions, forcing the IoM to accept the anomaly in fees while admitting students later.
Some other agreements, however, have already been met. These include appointment of dean based on seniority and ouster of the erstwhile chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority. Process is underway to establish government-run medical schools in each province.
Dr KC said Parliament is still delaying endorsement of the Health Profession Education Act.
“Without its endorsement, efforts to improve medical education won’t be institutionalised,” said Dr KC.
Health Minister Gagan Thapa said the government was committed to addressing the demands of Dr KC. “Yet, as the health minister, I cannot share all the details. But the tasks that were assigned to our ministry including formation of health academies have moved forward. The Pokhara Health Academy will soon get its vice-chancellor,” said Thapa. “The Cabinet has also owned up the agreement.”
Education Minister Dhani Ram Poudel defended the TU seat allocation process stating that it was necessary to centralise power in order to oversee the process as irregularities were reported from many sectors of the TU.
“On fees, we will certainly take stringent action against the colleges. But no one has lodged a complaint till date,” said Minister Poudel.