4-10 August 2017 #870

The unshakeable

Gopen Rai

145 days, and counting: that is the cumulative time Govinda KC has survived without food and water during his 11 hunger strikes against six different governments in the past five years.

The main demand that KC raised in his first hunger strike in 2012 remains the same: enact a strong law and make sweeping reforms in medical education. Every government has given in to the 60-year-old crusader, but only to trick him into signing deals that are never implemented.

After KC’s fifth hunger strike, the Kedar Bhakta Mathema Commission was formed to shape the Nepal Medication Education Bill. The surgeon had to go on another fast-unto-death to force the government to table it.

The bill was finally registered in Parliament last year, but businessmen-cum-MPs have tried to water it down by registering as many as 276 amendments. If the bill is altered, it will perpetuate the commercialisation of medical education that impacts the affordability and accessibility of health care in Nepal.

All MPs who have invested in for-profit medical colleges have the blessings of the top political leaders in all major parties. This is the reason KC has had to risk his life over and again.

KC’s representatives and a government negotiation team had made no headway as of Thursday press time. He has survived up to 24 days in the past, but this time his health is deteriorting faster. Dibya Singha, a doctor monitoring KC, told Nepali Times on Thursday: “He may not last as long this time.”

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