Reforming The Medical Sector
The 10th round of fast-unto-death of Dr. Govinda KC, a senior orthopedic surgeon at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), has finally come to an end on the 22nd day. Out of his strong determination to see an improved medical sector in the country that is responsive to the desire of the children of underprivileged families to pursue medical education, Dr. KC has been staging his fast-unto-death several times putting his life in peril.
Often compared with Mahatma Gandhi for his use of hunger strike as a weapon to shake the state system, Dr. KC is also revered as the rarest individual with selfless concern in the current age of greed for power and money. Although it looks pretty insane for some as to why a renowned medical doctor uses such an extreme form of protest, Dr. KC seems undeterred. Interestingly, the mass support towards his campaign with such a noble cause is getting bigger with people of different walks of life including government doctors, civil society campaigners, editors of leading media houses and the common public expressing solidarity for the public welfare. ‘Save Dr. KC’, ‘Solidarity for Dr. KC’ among others have become popular slogans in expediting this movement to draw the attention of the policymakers. After all, his concerns are directly associated with improved health access and better medical education to all Nepalese.
Central to his demands is an end to the ongoing malpractices in the medical sector. Ranging from the recruitment of prospective doctors to the appointment of high ranking medical officials, the entire system has been embroiled in corruption. With the medical institutions charging exorbitant fees to medical students often overlooking the meritorious criteria to give admission, the issue of producing quality doctors in the country has become challenging.
In fact, an unholy nexus of businessmen and politicians has stifled reforms in medical education let alone the quality. In the light of the above, Dr. KC has demanded scrapping of such a practice. Particularly in his latest round of hunger strike, he put forward the agenda of resignation of the IOM dean and sacking of University VC who had been appointed purely on partisan basis. While many honest professionals of various sectors were unsatisfied with overt politicisation of medical institutions, Dr. KC dared to fight for ushering reform in the medical sector. And only a man of such professional integrity could accomplish this in a society like ours where the ideals of morality and honesty are quickly fading. To his success, the dean has already stepped down amid pressure and IOM has got a new dean with proven professional competency.
Meanwhile, the government has agreed to form a committee within two weeks from the day of his end of the 10th hunger strike to probe into the VC’s conduct and recommend appropriate actions. A constant vigilance to the government’s implementation aspect of the agreed agendas is crucial to prevent Dr. KC for staging another fast-unto-death for the same cause.
His eariler demands on endorsement of medical education act by the parliament are yet to materialise although the draft bill has gained some momentum. Dr. KC has called for a revision in the draft bill to accommodate more progressive reforms before it gets passed. Similarly, the status of his demand to sack the CIAA chief has been stalled due to a sluggish parliamentary proceeding but is likely to produce some tangible result soon.
The government of Nepal seems to be betraying Dr. KC time and again. While it agrees to usher reforms when he is in hunger strike, the day after he ends his strike, the government starts breaching the past agreements which has been observed so far. For instance, the issue of limiting the medical fee to study doctor up to 3.5 million is yet to be implemented. Thus, the approach of the government seems to pacify him in short run and move ahead without bothering much about the promises made to him. But with a man of such audacity, the government has to recline. Since his cause is genuine, it is an uphill task for the government to ignore his demands.
The victory of Dr. KC has sent some positive message for the entire society. First, no matter how unresponsive the government is, it has to bow down under the pious effort of individuals like Dr. KC for inducing reform in different sectors of the country. Second, general public will always join hand in hand for a noble cause. Third, perseverance is a key to the success of any movement. Fourth, use of non-violence as a means of bringing the attention of the concerned authorities can be successful if it is applied with demands for the general welfare.
The nation is in need of few individuals like Dr. KC who can stand for a common cause to cure the maladies prevailing in their respective fields. Reforming not only the health but also the education, transportation and communication sectors in Nepal has remained long overdue.