The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has expressed solidarity with Dr Govinda KC, who is on the 21st day of his 19th fast-unto-death, at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH).
NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma told Setopati that the party has already backed Dr KC's demands issuing a formal statement. He added that preparations are on to take decision in the central committee meeting and express solidarity.
Pointing that Dr KC has been raising legitimate demands right from the past, he claimed that the majority of demands would be met if the agreements signed by the NC-led governments were implemented.
He stated that the demands about expanding PCR testing and Karnali Academy of Health Sciences are the new ones but they are also legitimate and urged the government to immediately start dialogue to address the demands.
Dr KC's health is deteriorating rapidly and his life is under risk.
The government has not showed any interest in his hunger strike and has yet to form any team for dialogue. Setopati asked Health and Education Ministry about the issue and the ministries falsely claimed that his demands are not related to the ministries.
Dr KC is currently at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) after the government transferred him there September 22 evening after widespread condemnation of taking him to the National Trauma Center using police force earlier on the day.
He was brought to Kathmandu on September 22 after he started his 19th fast-unto-death in Jumla on September 14 with a six-point demand. Dr KC, who was in Jumla before the start of nationwide lockdown in March providing free treatment to patients in the remote district in Karnali, had started the fast at Babira Mast temple in Singhachaur near Jumla Bazar demanding immediate start of MBBS program in the Karnali Academy of Health Sciences.
The other demands include start of classes in Geta Medical College and Karnali Academy of Health Sciences, and start of process to start government medical colleges in Province 2, Gandaki province, Doti or Dadeldhura, Udayapur, and Ilam or Panchthar. The issues are related to the Education Ministry.
He has also demanded correction of appointments made at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) under the Tribhuvan University (TU) violating seniority, and legislation to ensure fair and transparent appointment at universities, councils, academies and other bodies as per the recommendation of the committee to set standards for such appointments. The demand is related to the Education Ministry and the TU.
He has also demanded amendment in the Medical Education Act as per the agreement reached with him on July 26, 2018. The demand is related to the Cabinet and the parliament which the government controls.
He has also called for making use of face mask and social distancing mandatory, and expansion of PCR testing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and gradually stop lockdown and prohibitory orders. He has also asked for appropriate treatment of COVID-19 patients and all other patients. This is related to the Health Ministry.
He has demanded regular budget for Bayalpata Hospital to ensure sustainable free service, and investigation and action in corruption cases including Rajya Laxmi Golchha corruption scam, procurement of land for the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), procurement of wide-body planes, security printing press, land in Baluwatar and Durbar Marga, and procurement of medical supplies by Omni Group among others.
The government is being insensitive even as Dr KC's health is deteriorating with the two ministries making false claims that they are not related to the demands.
Health Ministry Spokesperson Dr Jageshwore Gautam bluntly remarked that the demands are not related with the ministry which does not work outside its jurisdiction. Education Ministry Spokesperson Dipak Sharma also made similar claims and asked Setopati to talk to the Medical Education Commission about Dr KC's demands and dialogue with him.
"The one demand related to us is about starting MBBS classes in the Karnali Academy of Health Sciences. We are preparing for that," Vice-chairman of the commission Shrikrishna Giri told Setopati. "The remaining demands are related to the government. The government itself may initiate dialogue."