Controversy brews over Medical Commission’s new appointmentCritics say Krishna Giri, the executive vice-chairman, does not meet criteria.
The appointment of Dr Krishna Giri as the executive vice-chairman of National Medical Commission, the government entity authorised to oversee the medical education sector, has been dragged into a controversy over his qualifications.
The government last week appointed Giri, a senior orthopaedic surgeon, to the post from among three candidates recommended by a committee led by Umesh Mainali, chairman of the Public Service Commission. Along with Giri, who was ranked third, the Mainali-led panel had recommended Dr Surendra Sherchan and Dr Sambhu Kumar Pahari for the position.
Clause 24 of the National Medical Education Act mandates at least 20 years of experience as a specialist after completing a graduate degree in any stream under medical education, or 10 years of experience as a faculty of medicine.
Critics say that Giri does not meet these criteria as he has only been working as a specialist doctor since 2002 and it hasn’t been 1o years since he started teaching at the National Academy of Medical Sciences at Bir Hospital.
Giri, who was a doctor based in Butwal, was transferred to Bir Hospital in August 2008 by Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel, who was the health minister then.
“He became part of the faculty a year after he joined Bir Hospital,” said a doctor at the academy on condition of anonymity. “He also left teaching for around a year to become a spokesperson at the Ministry of Health.”
Giri was transferred to the Health Ministry in 2017 when Pokharel became minister for the second time. Giri used to be a cadre of the Janamorcha Nepal party, which later merged with the then CPN (Maoist), in which Pokharel was a vice-chairman. The academy doctor said that the only reason Giri was appointed vice-chairman of the National Medical Commission despite being ranked third was because of his close relationship with Pokharel.
Giri, however, refuted any allegations of political influence and argued that he was appointed on merit. He also denied being a member of the Janamorcha party.
“I meet all the qualifications for the position. I was appointed on merit,” Giri said in a statement on Thursday. In response to the allegations that he doesn’t have the required years in experience, Giri said that the Nepal Medical Council only started registering specialist doctors in 2001 so it was not possible for him to gain certification 20 years ago.
Following the appointment, Dr Govinda KC, an orthopaedic surgeon who has staged hunger strikes several times calling for an end to malpractices in Nepal’s medical education, has demanded clarity over the dispute in the appointment process.
“There are confusions over the qualification, which need to be cleared,” Dr Abhishek Singh, a close aide to KC, told the Post.
The National Medical Commission was conceptualised based on the recommendations of a task force led by Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University. The commission’s formation was one of KC’s demands. It is tasked with checking malpractices in the medical education sector.
The selection process for the appointment of the vice-chairman began on June 24. The first phase of selection was cancelled due to a lack of applications from qualified persons, prompting the recommendation committee to call for applications for a second time. Nine doctors, including Giri, had applied in the second phase.