Lessons from Dr. Devkota’s Life

Kushal Pokharel

The untimely demise of Dr. Upendra Devkota, a towering neurosurgeon has created a deep vacuum in not only the medical sector but also the society. Known for his professional ethics and unflinching dedication to his work, Dr. Devkota falls among the limited number of Nepali professionals with regional and international repute. Diagnosed of a bile duct cancer in November last year, he also became one of the few lucky individuals to embrace death in full consciousness.

Dr. Devkota was an epitome of a relentless and highly-spirited professional who always had the innate desire to serve the nation. At a time when professionalism is waning in every sector of the nation, the doctor’s life offers important lessons to pursue a meaningful life with dignity. Moreover, his commitment to improve the access of the poor people to the health services speaks volumes about his mission to expand the quality health services in every corner of the country.
Despite the state’s apathy, his consistent effort for the establishment of a world class National Institute of Neurology and Allied Sciences was able to provide a variety of neurological services to the Nepalese. In addition to this, his institute has also created a bunch of young medical professionals in the field of neurology who can be a catalyst for upgrading the quality of services.
Offering treatment to more than a million patients throughout his medical career and conducting ten thousand surgeries, he was a passionate doctor with the motto of ‘patient first.’ Apart from the medical fraternity, he was also popular among the civil society and youth network for his optimism about changing the face of the nation. Leading by example, he was one of the rarest individuals to sacrifice his international career for serving the nation. Intrinsically motivated to cure the Nepalese patients in his own homeland, he happened to abandon the highly lucrative international job. In this sense, he was a true nationalist wishing to serve in his own soil.
No less significant was his interest in issues of contemporary politics and society. His engagements with civil society, NGOs and other social organisations in deliberations pertaining to the prosperous Nepal could be seen even during his busy working hours. Whenever people called him to talk on the ways of national transformation, he was readily available. This is indicative of the fact that Dr. Devkota was a keen professional to see the nation changing for the better.
He was always vocal about the systemic failure of Nepalese polity and wanted the existing political leaders to rise above partisan politics. In one of the discussion program that he participated, he even apologised with the younger generation of Nepal for the inability of his generation to provide a better Nepal to the succeeding one. This also proves that he was a person of high moral character.
Nevertheless, he had also earned enemies from his professional circle though he was an undeterred personality. Critics often call him ‘egoistic’ for his strong commitment and dedication to fight with the existing malpractices within the medical sector. Without knowing the fact, his hospital has also been accused of charging hefty sum of money for treating patients, imposing severe financial burden on them. In reality, his medical institute have conducted many surgeries in a modest price for the underprivileged people from the remote areas of the country. A policy of transferring the economic burden from the poor to the rich people has been adopted.
His desire to spend the rest of his life in own homeland after knowing the nature of the disease depicts the value driven life of this medical giant. Getting an opportunity to drink the water of his birthplace few days before the death, Devkota happily accepted death.
Nepal’s politics can also learn many things from him. Without taking any donations, Dr. Devkota spent all his expenses at King’s hospital and the state never thought of even offering some financial help. The doctor had any desire to put pressure on the state coffers at a time when the tendency of going to foreign countries for simple physical ailments have become rampant among the political leaders including their family members. The Nepali leaders need to learn important virtues of integrity from Devkota.

Being responsible and honest in whichever sector we work would be the real tribute to this national hero. Abandoning the traits of ill-intentions and forgery and living a life with a social purpose is another insight on offer. Last but not the least, perseverance and dedication are important takeaways from his life full of enthusiasm and positivity.
Rising above petty politics and showing a statesmanship character would perhaps be the greatest tribute to this wholehearted Nepali professional who spent his entire life in making the country a better place primarily through health sector reforms.


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