Govinda KC is on a hunger strike again – his 11th in the past five years. This time, his bottom line is Parliament passing a bill on medical education. Negotiations between KC’s representatives and government authorities have made no headway, even as his hunger strike reaches Day 10.
The drafting and tabling in Parliament of the Nepal Medical Education Bill was the outcome of multiple hunger strikes by KC, an orthopaedic surgeon determined to reform Nepal’s medical education sector. Some MPs who are directly or indirectly involved in lucrative medical colleges are trying to block the bill, or water down its content by registering amendments.
But the iron-willed crusader is not ready to give up just yet. He has floated 24 amendments to make the bill stronger.
KC is opposed to the bill’s definition of public education institutes. The bill recognises institutions run by the government, trusts or non-profit organisations as ‘public education institutes’. KC says all medical institutes should be categorised as either ‘government-run’ or ‘private’. UML MPs Rajendra Pandey, Naresh Kharel and Man Kumar Gautam have demanded removal of the word ‘non-profit’.
The bill envisages a Medical Education Commission chaired by the Prime Minister and co-chaired by the education minister. KC says this commission should be independent, and not include a minister at all.
The bill also aims to bar colleges in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur from starting new diploma courses in medicine, dentistry and nursing. As per the bill, the prerequisite for a medical program is a 300-bed hospital, for dental and nursing a 100-bed hospital is required. KC wants the bill to allow new medical, dental or nursing colleges only after running 300-bed and 100-bed hospitals for three consecutive years.
Most importantly, KC wants the government to not issue new letters of interest or renew old ones prior to the passing of the bill. Past governments had agreed to this demand, and KC wants the present government to honour those past pledges.
Govinda KC wants the bill to ensure one government medical college for every private medical college. He has also demanded at least one government-run medical, dental and nursing college in every province, and prohibition of any private college before a government-run one is opened. He is also pushing for more scholarships from government as well as private medical colleges.