Ms. Bibisha Biswakarma is an exceptionally smart girl and a best friend of mine. We had met in grade 4 in Shangri-la Public school. Ever since we met, we have shared a strong bond. During those beautiful old days, I remember how splendidly impassionate our conversation used to be, especially regarding her dream. The unceasing dialogue and bold imagination of us on what profession we wanted to delve into is something I can picturize till today. There was not even a pinch of fear if her dream would go unachieved, 13 years old kids we were. The Naive kids were totally unaware of the rampant existence of power-hungry ill-minded eagles in the society--the medical mafia.
With time, Bibisha's dream of becoming a DOCTOR grew stronger. This exact and only dream she had, used to motivate her to perform well in school. The emotion-filled imagination of wearing a white coat, holding a stethoscope, examining her patient, and recommending the medicine would encourage her to work harder. Apart from Bibisha’s diligence in academics which rewarded her with 90 or 89 percent throughout the whole school life, her moral qualities would make her appear more appealing.
Our journey got a parted when we began our high school. She went to Golden Gate international college while I joined Trinity. Dipshikha Devkota, a mutual friend of ours, had once said “Bibisha ta break ma ni padhera basthiyo”. This clearly reflects how determined Bibisha was to pursue medical education. There came a crucial time in her life to materialize her childhood dream. Unfortunately, for twice, she, with a tiny difference in marks, could not secure the scholarship. Despite capability, determination, and intelligence Bibisha could not manifest her dream of becoming a doctor. The heft medical school fees shattered her dream.
Thousands of others can relate to Bibisha's story. This is not just her story but it resembles our issues as well. The capable and creative minds in Nepal are intentionally suppressed by using a tool of money. At the same time, this tool is also used for providing opportunity, sometimes, to brainless, unethical, and moral-less individuals (which has accelerated irregularities in the medical sector). Thus, MONEY is playing a dual in the medical field.
Becoming a doctor appears to be a far-fetch dream for the residents of Karnali, Humla, khotang, Rautahat, jajarkot, Rukum, Rolpa Darchula, Bajang, Bajura et cetera due to the unaffordability and accumulation of medical colleges in the valley. Article 31 of the constitution of Nepal 2072 mentions about Right to education. The government has not addressed the fundamental right of people. Thus, we must support Dr. KC's demand for assuring access to medical education in remote places of Nepal. The major question is, to what extent is it okay for ordinary people like us to sacrifice our dream? Thus, this is a common fight for us to secure the right to education irrespective of our geographical location and economic condition.
Nepal has 20 medical colleges. Approximately, 15,000 students appear for the MBBS entrance exam but the total number of seats stands only 1,900 in the nation. More than 5,000 students go abroad for medical study. Nepal has an acute shortage of doctors and nurses (there is one nurse for every 500 people). The doctor-patient ratio is less than the WHO-prescribed limit of 1:1000. Nepal requires more medical colleges. Thus, dr. KC’s demand for the expansion of medical college out-side the valley is legitimate.
Meanwhile, we do not have accessible and quality health services in Nepal. There are uncountable instances of death resulting from unapproachable medical services. The elite and power holders have access to any sort of health care. But how about us? Who on earth deserve this exclusive health services?
One of the most remote districts of Nepal, Accham with a population of almost 250,000 has only one hospital. Jumla district does not have a single health post in more than 30 wards out of 60 (the remaining 30 health centers in the district are not operating smoothly). Most of the time residence of Jumla have to come to ‘Cities’ for treatment. Untimely death is most frequent in Jumla. Likewise, in case of emergency, the patient from Mugu district are airlifted for many years instead of building a hospital there itself. The Karnali province has a sheer lack of resources and medicines. Dolpa, another ignored place of Nepal, has 26 health post suffering from a severe lack of infrastructure and resources. Meanwhile, Sudurpaschim, the largest multidimensionally poor people- population provinces of Nepal, has 6743 wards in total. However, there are only 378 health posts and 14 hospitals for a population of 254,42,951. The government of Nepal must ensure access to health cares as demanded by Dr. KC since there is a violation of article 35 of the constitution on right to health care.
Similarly, unaffordable health services have remained as a long-standing issue in our country. We, ordinary people, are a direct victim of these inequalities. Only 33 percent of women in the lowest wealth quintile have access to skilled birth attendants, whereas 92 percent of women in the highest wealth quintile have access. Likewise, in rural areas, 43 percent of the population has no sanitation facilities, whereas 90 percent of the population in urban areas does. This is why, KC’s demand to address these inequalities is lawful.
Similarly, the unfair and questionable hiring of university officials has given the wrong message in society. The hiring of staff based on political affiliation has resulted in irregularities and widespread corruption. This has invited poor quality management of medical education which ultimately influences the overall health structure of Nepal.
On 21st Aashar, 2069 B.S Dr. KC kicked off a hunger strike for the first time. He is now on the 19th hunger strike. The government of Nepal is ignoring the legitimate demands of Dr. KC. Therefore, it is crucial for ordinary people like us to show solidarity to him.
In the initial days of KC’s Satyagraha, Nepal was operating under a congress led government. During the time, the Nepali congress could not address his justifiable urging. But today, as an opposition political party, most NC leaders are playing facade favor while few were pouring genuine support since the past. Today, we have the Nepal Communist Party (Nekapa) as a ruling party. However, youth political organizations and student unions affiliated to Nekapa are not voicing the reasonable call of Dr. Govinda K.C. They are not showing solidarity even through social media. The real problem lies in this sort of attitude exhibited by Nepalese concerning a 'common issue', an issue which has direct or indirect influence over the life of each Nepalese.
A few days back, I had an hour of informal conversation with the Secretary of one of the youth political organizations affiliated to the ruling party. I came to know that most members are guided by two notions. Firstly, they hold a feeling that it is not their obligatory duty to support issues on which their party is showing no concern. Secondly, they fear the end of their political career. However, this is not the right approach. Youths should be courageous enough to support the 'right' cause. Instead of blindly supporting their party, they should play the role of watchdog. Unless they give up on playing a subservient role and refrain from correcting their party leader, the progress of Nepal is unguaranteed. This biased attitude of us not showing concern to a common issue is responsible for the most irregularities persisting since long in Nepal.