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Govt ‘flexible’ on KC’s demands

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

A medical student expressing her solidarity with Dr KC’s demands. Photo by Devaki Bista.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Tuesday called an emergency meeting to solve the crisis created by the hunger strike of Dr Govinda KC. But, the cabinet failed to take any substantial decision that would convince Dr KC to end his fast-unto-death, which reached tenth day on Tuesday.

According to General Administration Minister Lal Babu Pandit, the cabinet only instructed a high-level negotiation team to show utmost flexibility to address Dr KC’s demands. Pandit, however, said that the negotiation team will have to comply with existing laws or legal provisions while striking any deal with Dr KC.

Secretary Lila Mani Poudel and National Planning Commission (NPC)’s Vice Chair Govinda Pokharel are negotiating with Dr KC’s representatives on behalf of the government. Although the government had included Education Minister Chitra Lekha Yadav and Health Minister Khag Raj Adhikari in the negotiation team, Dr KC refused to talk to them.

According to sources, the government is ready to address all demands but one on dismissal of the Tribhuvan University (TU) officials, who initiated the process to grant the Institute of Medicine (IoM) affiliations to new medical colleges prompting Dr KC to launch his fifth fast-unto-death.

Dr KC has demanded that the IoM affiliation process be halted until the government endorses a medical health education policy that is now being drafted by a panel led by education expert Dr Kedar Bhakta Mathema. The Mathema panel was formed by the government itself when Dr KC launched his fourth fast-unto-death last year.

Dr KC has been on a fast-unto-death since 22 March, accusing Prime Minister Koirala of backtracking on his promises. Shortly after being sworn in as Prime Minister, Koirala had agreed to address all demands raised by Dr KC.

This time, the government tried to ignore Dr KC’ fast-unto-death for the first few days but felt pressure when the TUTH doctors also went on strike. The TUTH resident doctors have stopped working at the OPD since 27 March, expressing solidarity with Dr KC. And Nepal Medical Association (NMA) has also warned of a nationwide strike from Wednesday.

“If the government does not address Dr KC’s demands, we will stop working in all but emergency departments across the country from Wednesday,” said the NMA Chair Anjani Kumar Jha.

Dr KC is a professor of orthopedics at the TUTH and has been prevented the government from providing license to new medical colleges by staging hunger strike for the last few years. He says medical colleges that do not have adequate infrastructures and meet basic criteria should not be granted the IoM affiliations.





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