KC postpones hunger strike for second timeDr Govinda KC has postponed his planned 16th hunger strike for the second time, following the government’s assurance to endorse the proposed Medical Education Bill.
Dr Govinda KC has postponed his planned 16th hunger strike for the second time, following the government’s assurance to endorse the proposed Medical Education Bill. The ruling Nepal Communist Party and the opposition Nepali Congress however are still at loggerheads over four provisions in the draft of the bill, at the forefront of which is the issue of granting affiliation to medical colleges that have already received the Letter of Intent (LoI).
As per the agreement between Dr KC and the government, both Tribhuvan and Kathmandu University are barred from granting affiliations to more than five medical colleges, but the new draft of the bill has a provision that will allow medical colleges outside the Valley, which have already received the LoI, affiliations, inviting uncertainties yet again.
“Medical colleges that have received the LoI and have hefty investments and fulfilled the basic criteria should be granted affiliations,” NCP lawmaker and former health minister, Khaga Raj Adhikari told the Post.
The new provision however has become the main point of discord as opposition lawmakers maintain that they will not accept any changes in the bill, which has been prepared as per past agreements between Dr KC and the government and the recommendations by the panel led by former TU vice chancellor Kedar Bhakta Mathema.
“The government should seek alternatives so that other universities in the country are capable of granting affiliations. Given the current scenario where universities struggle to run classes in affiliated medical colleges, it is unacceptable that other colleges be granted affiliations,” NC lawmaker and former health minister, Gagan Thapa told the Post.
Following the discord, the subcommittee meeting, which was supposed to finalise the draft of the bill and table it in Parliament on Thursday, has been extended once again.
“As per the draft bill and recommendations of the Mathema panel, each province should have one government medical college within five years. The government can establish these colleges as constituent colleges of other universities and provide affiliation to other colleges including those who have already received the LoI,” Dr KC told the Post.
NCP lawmakers have also shown reservations against the stipulated service-period of doctors who have been awarded government scholarship to pursue MBBS and
have demanded an amendment in the draft bill which would require doctors to serve a year each in a rural and urban posting.
“The rural population will not receive quality health services if a doctor only serves a year in a rural area. They must serve two years,” said Adhikari. The third disagreement between the two parties is regarding the citation of the Mathema panel and its recommendations in the draft bill. NCP lawmakers are of the opinion that the bill should do away with any citations while NC lawmakers maintain that citations should be encompassing of contributions made by everyone.
Both parties however have agreed to phase out and upgrade the existing Auxiliary Health Worker and Nurse Midwife courses within five years. “Health workers with CTEVT certifications will not lose their jobs but the course will be removed within five years. This issue will be resolved in the next meeting,” said subcommittee coordinator and NCP lawmaker Bhairab Bahadur Singh.
These minor misunderstandings at the parliamentary education and health
subcommittee have obstructed the endorsement of the bill, according to Dr KC, who is currently in Ilam and has warned the government of a 16th hunger strike if the January 9 deadline is not met.