Nepalese lives at stake: Corruption, apathy and lack of infrastructure in the Medical Sector

KATHMANDU, Aug 22: In what appears to be one of the most startling revelations regarding the callousness of the government toward the medical sector, medical professionals alike joined for a press conference at the Reporters Club this afternoon. There were representatives from Gandaki Medical College, Janaki Medical College, Central Campus Institute of Medication, and the Kathmandu University Medical School. Speaking at the program the medical professionals raised an alarm over the current state of an anomaly of the sector right from education to professional work in the health care sector.

This press conference was organized in light of the various discrepancies seen in the medial sector and various medical professionals have united to form the “Medical Education Struggle Campaign”.

Speaking at the program Dr. Arbin Adhikari who is an intern at the Gandaki Medical College stated “We are unable to withstand it any longer. We are paid lower than what daily wage laborers earn, and this is affecting the Doctor-Patient relationship, as it is affecting our work”.

The core of the problem of the medical sector in Nepal is high costs and the manipulation of private medical colleges. An average private medical college for a full course of MBBS degree is said to charge anywhere between six million to ten million Nepalese rupees. There are various middle-men involved that charge a lucrative amount in order to provide admission without merit.

“I make a sincere appeal to the government not to be apathetic and make medical education accessible to the common man”. Prakash Chand Thakuri

Similarly, Dr. Hemraj Bhandari said “How can we cope up in work with such low paying salaries. We are sliding toward depression, due to low pay and long hours of work, the infrastructure is poor, and very soon it will be a dream for the common man to study medicine in Nepal. The situation is getting terrible by the day and we all need to unite in order to bring about changes for the common good”.

Third-year medical student Anit Sinha enrolled in Gandaki Medical College said that “receipts and bills of payment made to the college must be provided”. Colleges have been found to charge exorbitant amounts as against the Constitutional provision that has put a cap on the fees to be levied. A college can charge up to 3 million rupees inside the valley, and up to 4 million outside. The problem being that there is no legal recourse and the maximum penalty a college can pay is just thirty thousand Nepalese rupees, which seems highly unfair for the student. We need a nationwide struggle”

Central Campus Independent Students Union President Milan Gaire highlighted the apathy of the government towards the medical sector in Nepal. Kathmandu University student union president of medical sciences Deepak Thakur brought to light the businesslike approach of the health sector. “We have to find a way out where our common goal would be to address all concerns affecting our health sector, we cannot treat such an important profession merely as a business”.

Finally concluding remarks and observations were made by the Coordinator of the Medical Education Campaign, Prakash Chand Thakuri. Thakuri said “We have to increase the visibility of our campaign into a nationwide struggle to achieve our goals in order to bring in improvement to the Health sector. Through this medium today I make a sincere appeal to the government not to be apathetic and make medical education accessible to the common man”.  He spoke about the struggle of medical students and how the exorbitant fees were creating extreme pressure on their daily lives, and with the current scenario, there seem to be no returns for the investment made. “We have to implement that previous agreement with the government regarding the health and education bill, continue our struggle against middle-men and seek stringent measures to implement the policies as decided for the public good”.

While inflation surges, compensation provided to interns and government doctors are not at par, thus creating a situation of hopelessness where individuals have had to leave their profession. This is extremely unwarranted due to the large investment already made in order to be able to be a medical professional. It is a matter of serious concern which has all Nepalese lives at stake, our health is in our hands, but not when we are afflicted. We need our medical professionals to be able to cure us at the right time with appropriate technology, if this condition persists then there are no options but to face certain death. The demands are genuine and the struggle will continue with various programs and protests in the days ahead.