Honoring Dr Govinda KC’s demands for reforms in health education, most healthcare professionals agree, would vastly improve public health. This has been true since Dr KC sat on his first fast-unto-death in early 2012. He has since tirelessly campaigned for affordable medical education, proper supervision of medical colleges, and decentralization of these colleges away from major urban hubs. The country in the grip of a pernicious pandemic, the importance of his demands has never been higher. Nepal’s current healthcare system has fallen woefully short in managing the Covid-19 emergency.
Decentralization of medical colleges would have ensured that many more people were tested on time to forestall a ticking corona time-bomb. A handful of labs in Kathmandu would not have had to bear all Covid-19 testing burden. Nor would those infected flock to Kathmandu’s overcrowded hospitals for the management of their symptoms. So Dr KC’s demands cannot be taken lightly, nor can his moral standing be easily belittled. Yet the recent police manhandling of this saintly doctor, who was on his 19th fast-unto-death, suggests those in the government see him as their bitter enemy and reckon brute force is the only way to deal with him. Meanwhile, there is no sign of any of his major demands being fulfilled.
Government representatives hate Dr KC as he seems determined to break their nexus with the medical mafia, the cash cow of many top NCP leaders. Nearly eight years of Dr KC’s tireless crusade has elicited many promises on medical education reform, but these promises have seldom been kept. The nexus appears determined to tire out the sexagenarian orthopedic surgeon; or, more sinisterly, to see him die during one of his fasts. The irony of the most powerful government in Nepal’s democratic history working in the medical mafia’s interest—while depriving people of their constitution right to healthcare—is not lost on anyone.
PM KP Oli and his government show breathtaking neglect of public health. They seem determined to have their way, even though honoring Dr KC’s demands would be highly popular. It would also be an indisputable proof of the NCP’s commitment to its electoral slogan of ‘Happy Nepali, Prosperous Nepal’. But this communist government, it’s getting increasingly clear, is beholden to crony capitalists. So long as money keeps flowing, winning the next round of elections should be easy and that, alas, seems to be its sole concern.