NEPAL: The government should address demands put forth by Dr. Govinda KC and save his life

Dr. Govinda KC has been on an indefinite hunger strike at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital for 10 consecutive days after putting forth seven demands including the resignation of Dr. Sharma and reinstatement of Dr. Prakash Sayami. The latter resigned claiming that he could not work due to political interference and another of Dr. Govinda’s demands is an end to political interference in the Institute of Medicine (IoM). Affiliations to new medical colleges must be stopped and the IoM must be developed into an independent university. Also action must be taken against the Tribhuvan University office bearers among others. The CPN-Maoists have showed their support and solidarity to Dr. Govinda and his demands.

Dr. Govinda KC, who is famous for his humanitarian support during time of crisis and taking care of the victims, has been demanding resignation of Dr. Sashi Sharma who became Dean of IoM after Dr. Prakash Sayami resigned from the post citing political interference. His major demand is to keep government hospitals out of politics, which leave it open for political meddling and business-focused attitudes. However, Dr. Sashi Sharma has been refusing to resign. The government has been turning a deaf ear to his demands.

The Nepal Medical Association (NMA) have shown solidarity to the indefinite fast of Dr. Govinda KC and shut down outpatients departments in hospitals and nursing homes from Sunday, 19 January onwards until his genuine demands are addressed. These demands will reform and end the ongoing practice of political meddling at the IoM.

The AHRC is concerned that heath of Dr. KC is deteriorating which will pose a risk to his life. His condition has reached the critical stage according to doctors attending him. On top of this, thousands of patients are suffering due to the closure of over 400 hospitals across the nation, infringing their right to health care.

Khil Raj Regmi, Chair of the Interim Election Government called on Dr. Sharma to resign, only to be refused by the latter. Madhav Poudel, the Minister of Education, also directed the Tribhuvan University to withdraw appointment of Dr. Sharma. But it should also be noticed that Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital Management Committee could appoint a Dean, but could not scrap the position on its own. The TU Regulation-1992 prevents its Executive Council from scrapping an appointment. The only remaining easy option is that Dr. Sharma steps down.

The AHRC is further concerned as the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has been investigating Dr. Sashi Sharma on corruption charges. The AHRC urges that Dr. Sharma should resign on moral and legal grounds. Persons implicated in charges of corruption should not retain a position, and assist the investigation.

We are very concerned with the deteriorating condition of Dr. Govinda KC. The government should initiate steps to so that he breaks his fast-unto death indefinite protest. The government and the TU Teaching hospital senate should act fast in order to save his life.

This situation demands immediate action from the government. The decision to close down hospitals nationwide should be reversed. The government should form a taskforce and address the demands put forth by Dr. Govinda KC. The political pressure at the IoM should not be tolerated. Selection of office bearers should be carried out independently, without any political pressure.

The government should stop giving unchecked affiliations to private medical colleges. Certain criteria and quality should be maintained before granting any affiliations to medical colleges. Otherwise common poor Nepalese have to shoulder the burden in the coming future. The government could not stay deaf to this unhealthy health practice. The AHRC urges the Nepal government to take strong steps against political interference in the medical sector.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-017-2014
Countries : Nepal,
Issues : Corruption, Judicial system, Right to education, Right to health,