Dr. KC ‘s Hunger Strike Govt Apathy Exposed
Dr Govinda KC has been on in his oft repeated hunger strike spree. It is, in fact, tenth hunger strike staged by Dr. KC over the past few years. It has grabbed the attention of all stakeholders and allowed room to raise question over the government apathy to implement the terms of the past accords agreed with him.
It is perplexing to note that the health ministry is handled by young and popular NC leader Gagan Thapa who was expected to set the affairs of the ministry correct and infuse fresh prospects in the performance of public health actors and institutions.
However, it looks like that the bang with which he started to reform the situation might end in whimper if he failed to keep the steam with which he had started the job in the ministry. In fact, the state of public health service delivery is very poor. Though the leaders are sent overseas for minor check up at the expense of the state coffers, poor people are suffering due to the lack of the provisions of the basic and rudimentary services at the local hospitals, especially in the district hospitals spread across the country. The poor people who land in hospital for services have not only to face hassles but are made to pay fees even for basic services that are expected to be free. The doctors, medical personnel and nursing staff assigned and posted for the district hospitals are often found not attending to their duties on a regular basis.
What is dismaying is the fact that the basic diagnostic equipment and appliances like X-ray tend to be allowed to go dysfunctional rendering the hospital assets non-performing and its services to go almost bust. The medicines supposed to be distributed to the common people for free in line with free health services policy of the government have been allegedly swindled and sold out through medical outlets in the market.
Not only the district hospitals but the performance of zonal hospitals is similarly tardy and poor. The primary health care centres, health posts and sub-health posts have been the devolved subject according to then decentralisation policy of the government. This allows room for decentralised monitoring and local management innovation. Not only at the districts but the national level public hospitals like Bir Hospital, TU Teaching Hospital and the Chitwan Cancer Hospital have not been doing well. The services in the Bir Hospital and Chitwan Cancer hospital have come under sharper public scrutiny.
The nefarious nexus of the physicians working for the BP Koirala Chitwan Cancer Hospital and private pathological labs and clinics is said to be affecting the process and outcome of service delivery. Despite much hue and cry over the poor state of service delivery at Bir Hospital, it has not improved at all.
The political meddling in the appointment of the doctors and executives in the Bir Hospital together with the discriminations and partiality in the provisioning and allocation of services have been central to the deterioration in the management of the nation’s oldest and premier hospital.
Health Minister Gagan Thapa has inspected the hospital and should, of course, be much aware of the situation in the nation’s premier seat of the public health service delivery. At the national level too, there has been the long unresolved dispute on the modality, character and management of medical education. The entire medical personnel and doctors are split on several issues including the mode of medical education in the country.
The Mathema panel report that has emphasised on curbing the alleged unscrupulous practices entrenched in the field of medical education stoked the fire of controversies throwing the government in the quagmire of dilemma. The controversies had gripped on the national parliament last year marked by much heated debate. Those lawmakers who have personal stake on the lucre and lures of the medical education have stood on the need to permit and create an enabling environment for the expansion of the medical colleges while others have argued for regulating it fairly to ensure its quality and development.
Govinda KC’s hunger strikes resorted to time and again has shaken not only the conscience of the medical fraternity but also the entire nation underlining the need for proper regulation and management of the medical education in the country. However, on the pretence of regulation and management of the medical education there should not be unnecessary curbs and control to discourage the genuine public initiative in the expansion and development of medical education to cater to the needs of the country. Needless to repeat, the nation has to contend with draining off the huge resources outside of the country for medical education.
The uglier face of the medical community had come to the fore in the past when medical doctors from various parts of the country had been rounded up and booked to justice. It was alleged that the majority of the arrestees did possess the fake SLC and higher secondary level certificates. Though some of the physicians have been cleared of their charge but the disclosure that the doctors who are well placed and respected in the society for their services and contribution have been involved in such grossly unethical and abhorrent practices is something to be worried over.
If those who are trusted as the saviour of the life of the people are themselves found indulging in the abominable practices there cannot be other breach of ethics than this. There is thus an urgent need to review the entire spectrum of medical education and medical practices to ensure that the malpractices and criminal negligence do not seep to destroy their vital organizations. Once this was done, the likes of Dr. KC should not need to stage hunger strike time and again. Health Minister Gagan Thapa should not allow his energy dwindle in correcting the malaises in the health sector.