At last something good has happened. Dr Govinda KC decided to end the two-week long fast-unto-death, his sixth, following an 11-point agreement with the government.
As per the recent deal, the recommendations made by the Mathema report on improving medical education in the country will be implemented.
The recommendations of the Report include the determination of student quotas to be admitted to the various medical colleges and putting a ceiling on the high tuition fee, and reaching medical education to the remote areas.
Other demands of Dr KC are putting a blanket ban on the opening of any new medical college for ten years, even those in the pipeline, irrespective of their fulfilment of all the criteria may well be called in question.
In the past, the government had blatantly failed to fulfil the commitments made to Dr KC but this time the possibility of such deception is low.
It will be hard for the government now to violate its promises as there are clear, time-bound obligations.
For example, the government has committed to announce a new 'Medical Education Commission' in the next cabinet meet to help chalk out on a new policy on medical education.
In the same vein, the relevant bill will be tabled in the parliament within the next three months for facilitating the promulgation of the new policy.
In line with the agreement, more free scholarship seats will be arranged for graduate and post-graduate programs and post-graduate education at government-run medical colleges will be free
Similarly, it will be mandatory for new doctors to serve in remote parts of the country for at least two years and no new medical and dental colleges will be permitted inside Kathmandu Valley, which is already overcrowded with medical establishments.
The other point is that the number of MBBS seats will be capped at 100 for each medical college to ensure the production of quality medical manpower. Constructing new medical colleges in remote areas and eventually bringing the ratio of number of government medical college to the number of private colleges to 1:3, from the current 1:5 is yet another point of the agreement.
If implemented effectively and sincerely, the deal will go a long way in overcoming the myriad of anomalies besetting the country’s health sector.
The bemoaning of Dr KC that senior politicians and bureaucrats are working hand in glove with medical mafia for their own vested interest is not hollow.
They have been making attempts to grant the Institute of Medicine (IOM) affiliations to new medical colleges, that do not meet required standards, for receiving the kickbacks.
It is an open sector that the medical field has attracted investors and fast buck makers, all at the cost of public health.
In a country where all medical practices are confined to the capital and where hundreds of thousands of people in remote areas lack access to hospitals elsewhere, it is shocking that billions of rupees are invested to produce ‘doctors’ who lack necessary skills.
In this context, Dr K.C deserves a great deal of applaud for making ceaseless efforts to bring about drastic changes in the health sector. That he is doing so purely on the strength of his moral character further cements his credential as a true social crusader.
We are now in the vortex of disorder as our leaders have never thought to rise above their petty, personal interest for the country and the people. It seems we need persons like Dr KC in the Nepali politics if the country is really to make any meaningful headway.