Excerpts of an interview with the newly-appointed Health Minister Gagan Kumar Thapa, Himal Khabarpatrika, 4-10 September
Himal: You are considered a beacon of hope in the new government. Are things different after becoming a minister?
Gagan Thapa: I was accused as someone who only talked, but as CA member my job was to talk as I didn’t have any executive powers. Now I have responsibilities at the Ministry of Health and Population. In the beginning I was nervous, but I have overcome it after assuming office.
Dr. Govinda KC has gone on hunger strikes eight times demanding improvements in medical education and health sector. How are you going to address his demands?
The government will address Govinda KC’a demands. The remaining issues, which were not addressed will be included in the Medical Education Act which will soon be passed by the parliament. We will start discussions to open medical colleges in all provinces as demanded by KC.
One of the issues raised by KC is related to the conduct of the Commission on the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) chief. I was the one who registered the Proposal of Public Importance but as Minister I am not allowed to pursue the matter.
Dr. KC has demanded the impeachment of the CIAA chief for his corrupt practices. How will you address this demand?
The demands will automatically be included while discussing medical education and health in the parliament. But it is surprising that KC ‘s demand is not being discussed.
If the Prime Minister’s speech and the letter sent to India is discussed in parliament, there should be discussions on Govinda KC’s demands too. It will be difficult to restore people’s faith in the parliament if issues of public importance are not taken up. Opinions, both for and against an issue can be taken up but only if they are allowed to be raised in parliament.
There seems to be undue interference on the part of the CIAA in the Medical Council. What do you propose to do about that?
Implementing the Medical Education Act and appointing eligible officials following a proper criteria will be done immediately. This is necessary to stop irregularities and ill practices like illegally adding seats in medical colleges and admitting Nepali students as foreigners.
Can we say that the issues raised by Dr. KC will be the basis of your working plan?
I do not want to confine myself to that, but Govinda KC has demanded improvements in medical education. I hope to make broader changes. I plan to leave the ministry only after establishing proper norms.
How will you solve the problem of health care for the poor?
It will take some time to supply medicines regularly to health centers and health posts. Our ministry has already taken up the task to improve the supply of medicines by streamlining procurement and