Listen To The Doctor

Kushal Pokharel

 

The 15th hunger strike of Dr. Govinda KC has come to a critical juncture with the deteriorating health condition. In a bid to exert more pressure, the doctor has chosen a remote place in Karnali to draw the attention of the policymakers this time. Although the demands are not new, lack of political honesty in implementing the past agreements has intensified the problem. Worse, the statements made by the lawmakers in the parliament have further exposed the attitude of the state towards his hunger strike. Even the Prime Ministers and his team are busy giving provocative speeches instead of taking a concrete initiative to normalise the situation.

Agreement
Needless to say, the past government had already inked a deal with Dr. KC to make sweeping reforms in the medical education in the spirit of the Mathema commission. Since the house session was prorogued, an ordinance was promulgated that time with wider consultations among the major political parties sparking a ray of hope in Nepal’s medical education reform.
But after the assumption of his office to the post of the PM, the chairperson of the Nepal Communist Party has not only backtracked from his earlier commitment but also accused the doctor’s movement of being a drama. Basking in the glory of the public votes, the current government is opting for an uncompromising and strict posture in this issue including others. In this regard, the disturbing silence of Prachanda has become a matter of great curiosity.
However, this will only increase the problem of the present government as the solidarity for Dr. KC’s movement has been growing. What is noteworthy is the fact that an overwhelming population of ordinary citizens have expressed strong affinity with the movement now. Despite the fact that in the initial stages of the strike, Dr. KC had a narrow support base, it has now grown by leaps and bounds. Hence, it will be a blunder for the government to direct its efforts towards suppressing this movement.
While debates are on-going relating to the movement of Dr. KC, what is unclear is the reason for the government shying away from the provision of the ordinance that bars the establishment of private medical colleges in Kathmandu for 10 years among others. Why can’t any of our political leaders keep their promise? Do they succumb to external pressures? Such questions have become pertinent.
Having said that, it is irrational on the part of his critics to charge him of being an agent of sending Nepali students abroad for medical education without any proof. Meanwhile, suspecting on the genuine intention of the doctor is also unacceptable as he is a man of action. How can a doctor who has arrived to rescue people living in remote areas during times of natural disasters like floods be called an irresponsible doctor? It is pretty obvious that Dr. KC has always been ready to sacrifice his life for the larger welfare of the ordinary people.
Dr. KC’s opponents have also challenged him for resigning from the government job and staging a protest. But they have overlooked the fundamental right of an individual of any profession to stage a peaceful protest in the form of hunger strike or others in a democratic society. What is unlawful on the part of the doctor to pressurise the government to adopt a people friendly health policy? It is also important to understand that the doctor has taken unpaid leave during his strike period abiding by the ethical principles of his profession. Hence, baseless allegations directed at the doctor needs to be seriously evaluated before making any perception of his intentions. It even appears as if understanding the doctor’s actions require a high moral character which is absolutely missing in almost every sector of society.
Nonetheless, the polarisation of Nepali politics over the matter of important public concern is really frustrating. Doing politics under the shield of the medical education reform agenda has also emerged as a grave problem since the beginning of Dr. KC’s strike. Attempts to either overrate or undermine his protests have created extreme reactions only to aggravate the situation. In this regard, the major opposition party the NC has tried to unduly politicise this issue in a bid to downgrade the image of the government which is really unfortunate.

Decision
While NC or other parties have every right to stand by the cause of Dr. KC, they shouldn’t be engaged in petty politics to cash in the sentiments of the public and portray a negative picture of the government. Now the onus is on the government to assess the gravity of the situation and make appropriate decisions. Otherwise, it will be extremely difficult for the government to handle the circumstances if any untoward things occur relating to the life of Dr. KC. Saving the life of this doctor is equivalent to keeping the hopes of the millions of ordinary citizen for an accessible and improved health service.

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