Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Dr Govinda KC announces 16th hunger strike

Betrayed by the two-third majority communist government led by KP Sharma Oli again, senior orthopedic surgeon at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) Dr Govinda KC has begun a fresh hunger strike, his sixteenth, from 5:00 pm today.
Dr KC had announced a day after to stage another round of hunger strike, if the government failed to endorse the Medical Education Bill in line with the agreement signed with him earlier. He decided to start fast-unto-death – on the premises of an old office building of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction – after Education and Health Committee of the Legislature Parliament today afternoon endorsed the report on Medical Education Bill against the agreement signed with him.
Addressing journalist – at Ilam in Province 1 – Dr KC said that the draft bill does not accommodate his demands as per the nine-point agreement reached earlier between Oli government and him on July 26 ending the doctor’s 15th hunger strike. Earlier in June, Dr KC had begun his 15th hunger strike at Karnali Academy of Health Sciences in Jumla. He was later air lifted to Kathmandu.
The government had then agreed to address Dr KC's demands while bringing the law, but according to Dr KC, the government has again betrayed him, prompting KC to begin his hunger strike. "The Medical Education Bill should be endorsed as per the letter and spirit of the agreement at the earliest,” demanded the anti-corruption crusader. "But the draft endorsed by the sub-committee today afternoon does not address provisions of the agreement that the government signed with him.
The draft has provisions to allow institutions outside Kathmandu valley that have already acquired letters of intent and built necessary infrastructure to operate.
The agreement reached with Dr KC calls for phasing out short-term CTEVT courses within five years after the enactment of the bill. However, the draft bill states that a decision on this issue, including phasing out and or upgrading certain CTEVT courses, will be taken as per the recommendation of a task force that will be formed in the future.
Dr KC – issuing a statement today from Ilam – has put forth six-point demand including passing National Medical Education Bill without change, taking action against 43 officials of TU as per the recommendation of the high level National Medical Education Commission led by former Judge Gauri Bahadur Karki. The demand also includes a fair and effective investigation on the mysterious case of Nirmala Panta’s rape and murder, and justice to the victims of a decade long Maoist conflict.
Dr KC was warning the government to pass the Bill according to the agreement, or he will start 16th fast unto death immediately after the agreement with the incumbent government.
The strike which was expected to be announced on January 2 was put off till January 9 following a request from the Parliament’s Education and Health Committee chairman Jayapuri Gharti Magar, to withhold the decision. Lawmaker Gharti had asked for sometime to discuss on the Medical Education Bill while expressing commitment to fully honour the agreement.
But the report on the National Medical Education Bill- 2075 BS that has been endorsed by the Education and Health Committee under the House of Representatives, has failed to address the nine-point agreement reached between Dr KC and the government on July 26 ending the doctor’s 15th hunger strike.
The committee meeting today passed the report with a majority as 14 among 18 members present voted in favour of the document. Four members from the opposition parties stood against the report. Committee chair Jayapuri Gharti had presented the report seeking its endorsement before the meeting.
Though, a committee member Yogesh Bhattarai claimed that the bill has addressed the past agreements, another committee member and former health minister Gagan Kumar Thapa presented a differing view on the bill. THapa said that it was really unfortunate that the report on the bill was passed by the committee on the basis of majority against the government-Dr KC agreement, while Bhattarai was of the view that Dr KC should accept the document.
Likewise, another member Umakant Chaudhary also termed the bill as against the agreement between the government and Dr KC.

The bill includes;
No letter of intent shall be awarded to establish and operate a medical institution to run the bachelor-level programmes on medical, dental and nursing subjects in Kathmandu Valley for the next ten years;
One has to pass the central entrance exam to pursue medical education and anyone completing the medical education with government scholarship must complete two years mandatory service in a government-run medical institution;
A university shall not be allowed to grant affiliation to more than five medical education teaching institutions to run the medical classes, but in case of those colleges, which have already obtained the affiliations and completed the criteria, decision shall be taken by the National Medical Education Commission (proposed in the bill);
No teaching institution shall be given a letter of intent for running classes and internship (towards medical) until they have at least a 300-bed hospital in operation and for conducting the classes towards dental and nursing programmes, the operation of a 100-bed (at least) facility is mandatory;
The National Medical Education Commission shall fix polices and criteria regarding the determination of standard and level of all medical education related programmes at the center and province and give required direction to Universities and Council in regard with the medical education;
A body assigned by the National Medical Education Commission shall conduct programmes of proficiency certificate level under the CTEVT;
The public medical institution shall allocate at least 50 per cent of the total available seats under the bachelor level programmes free of cost;
A medical university shall be established and operated while medical education-related teaching institutes shall be gradually transferred into non-profitable and serve-oriented organisations.

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