KATHMANDU, August 6: Lawmakers with their investment in the medical sector have filed amendments to kill or weaken important provisions of the National Medicine Education Bill currently under considerations in the parliamentary committee. This has made experts worried that the medical sector could get even worse if the amendments sought by the lawmakers are incorporated in the Bill.
The amendments against important provisions made by Kedar Bhakta Mathema-led Commission and Medical Education Commission are ostensibly aimed at benefitting over a dozen medical colleges, currently awaiting affiliation. A medical education-related national bill is currently at the parliament's Committee on Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare.
Altogether 53 lawmakers have filed 276 amendments to various 52 clauses of the Bill, which is under consideration by the parliamentary committee for nearly a year now. The amendments seek to weaken or kill the provisions concerning new affiliations to medical colleges, letter of intent and formation of Medical Education Commission and limit the role of or remove the provision to determine tuition fees of medical education. These are the key demands of agitating Dr Govinda KC.
According to the details obtained from the Parliamentary Committee, 37 of the total 53 lawmakers seeking amendments in the Bill belong to the CPN-UML. Likewise, The number of lawmakers seeking amendments from the Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center), Nepal Workers and Peasants Party are 7, 4 and 3, respectively. One each lawmaker from People's Front Nepal and Nepal Loktantrik Party have also sought amendments.
Interestingly, the lawmakers, who have filed amendments to maximum number of provisions, are the promoters of Manamohan Medical College -- Rajendra Pandey, Banshidhar Mishra, Ram Hari Subedi, Sindhu Jalesa, Shree Maya Thakali, Keshab Badal, Mankumari Gautam, Chudamani BK Jangali and Kedar Prasad Sanjel. Manamohan Medical College is currently awaiting affiliation to start its operations.
Lawmakers, whose direct involvement in the medical college is not confirmed, have also filed amendments that seek to make it easy for new medical colleges to get affiliations. In their amendment proposals, all lawmakers except for Mina Pun of Janamorcha Nepal have demanded that the process of granting affiliations to new medical college not be stopped and medical colleges be allowed to determine tuition fee on their own. They have also demanded that affiliations be granted to those colleges which have received the letters of intent and those meeting the infrastructure requirements.
Dr KC has been staging fast-unto-death protest for the last 14 days demanding that the Medical Education Bill be enacted in line with the provisions recommended by Kedar Bhakta Mathema-led committee and the suggestions given by Dr KC himself. The major political parties have failed to reach to any consensus on the key provisions of the bill as UML lawmakers have vested interests in the bill.
Former TU Vice Chancellor Mathema, who led the committee, said the proposed amendments, if made, will kill the very spirit of the Medical Education Bill. "We have not made our recommendations arbitrarily. Our suggestions are like prescriptions. There is no point introducing the bill if the proposed amendments are incorporated as they are," he said.