Parliamentary taskforce ignores Dr KC’s callsIgnoring the calls from Dr Govinda KC, who has risked his life stretching his hunger strike to 18 long days, a parliamentary taskforce on Thursday finalised the Health Profession Education (HPE) Bill with amendments.
Ignoring the calls from Dr Govinda KC, who has risked his life stretching his hunger strike to 18 long days, a parliamentary taskforce on Thursday finalised the Health Profession Education (HPE) Bill with amendments.
The amendments have been made in such a way that new medical colleges can be opened in Kathmandu Valley, something Dr KC has opposed, for he has been calling for medical colleges outside the Valley so as to ensure basic health care services to the millions Nepalis.
A seven-member taskforce led by Ranju Jha, chairperson of the parliamentary Committee on Women, Children, Social Welfare and Elderly Citizens, has decided to add a sub-clause to a provision of the HPE Bill that seeks to put a 10-year moratorium on establishing new medical colleges in the Valley. The added sub-clause allows medical colleges “that meet the criteria” in the Valley to run MBBS courses. This particular amendment will directly benefit the Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences (MMIHS) in Kathmandu, which is promoted by CPN-UML lawmakers, and the Birtamod-based B&C Hospital where CPN (Maoist Centre) leaders have their stakes. Apart from these, medical colleges of Nepal Police, People’s Dental College, National Medical College and Ashwini Medical College can also run MBBS programme.
Dr KC launched his 11th hunger strike on July 24 demanding that the HPE Bill be endorsed at the earliest in the spirit of recommendations made by a team of experts led by Kedar Bhakta Mathema, an educationist and former vice chancellor of Tribhuvan University, and past agreements reached with various governments be implemented.
Dr KC has maintained all along that the decision to grant affiliation should be taken by the HPE Commission, a framework to regulate the medical education sector, and not by lawmakers.
The finalised HPE Bill has retained Clause 12 which states that the letter of intent (LoI) to operate medical, dental and nursing colleges will not be granted for next 10 years. But a sub-clause has been added to Clause 13, mentioning that “medical colleges that have built infrastructure to run medical programmes shall be granted affiliation”.
The HPE Bill has been presented before the Committee on Women, Children, Social Welfare and Elderly Citizens, which will then forward it to Parliament for endorsement. Lawmakers, however, are divided over the newly added provisions and sought additional time to study the revised document.
Lawmaker Dipshika Sharma of the Nepali Congress said Health Minister Giriraj Mani Pokhrel and Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha have been invited for another round of discussion on Friday.
But committee Chairpersons Jha, who is a lawmaker from the CPN-UML, is learnt to have shown urgency to forward the bill to the House. This, many believe, could have come from pressure from her party lawmakers.