– Dr. Lochan Karki, candidate for chairman, Nepal Medical Association, (Democratic and professional Group)
How is the election atmosphere going on?
It has largely raised the temperature in this chilly winter. Since all the doctors from Mechi to Mahakali are the voters, we are traveling across the nation.
You have given candidacy for leadership. What are your agendas?
First of all, I have to complete numerous works left unfinished when I was the general secretary. For example, we have been advocating for security of doctors and formulation of strict laws against vandalism in workspace, by demanding reform in Security of the Health Workers and Health Organizations Act 2066, and Regulatory 2069. Those who manhandle doctors and vandalize the latter’s workplace must be taken into custody. Misbehaving a police person in course of duty is taken as a huge crime whereas using abusive language to a judge leads to a case of defamation. Likewise, we had demonstrated in demand of strong Acts against anyone misbehaving health workers on a white apron. The Act has reached the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Law and now to the Council of Ministers. It should be endorsed via the parliament.
Similarly, the state has declared expensive tuition fees for medical education, whereas the pay scale for doctors is very less. OPD charge has also not increased since 2071 B.S., which the secretary-level meeting had decided to increase every two years. Nonetheless, it has not materialized yet.
Lately, news regarding deaths due to doctors’ carelessness is reducing people’s trust towards health workers. For its tangibility, we have plans for media interaction and discussion. We are also thinking of imparting training to young doctors, expanding relationships with experienced doctors, and carrying out activities including integration, vacancy, medical library, and medical museum among others.
It is said that the Association has been raising issues of only doctors, and not of other health workers like nurses and ANMs. What do you have to say about this?
As the Nepal Medical Association is the association of doctors, it will raise issues of its members. Nevertheless, we have carried issues of the whole health sector in the past. We have taken aboard other health workers as well in our struggle. In the future also, only doctors’ contributions will not be sufficient in a substantial transformation of the health sector. We are of the belief that all the health workers must move ahead in a united manner.
When sensitive professionals like doctors revolt, there will be an extensive effect. What kind of subtlety should the doctors adopt to prevent such a situation?
Doctors protest only when there is a need. We cannot merely hit the streets because it directly affects patients. That leads to people raising fingers on our professionalism.
However, taking advantage of the same compulsion, the government usually stays silent. I think, the state should take the Medical Association as a ‘think-tank’, more than an association, which can provide suggestions regarding opinions and policy formulation. Rather than protesting against defective laws, preventing its endorsement would have barred this situation.
Lately, there has been a public discourse that the medical sector is getting money-oriented. What is your say on this?
This is absolutely incorrect. A student does not have to become a doctor to earn money. Rather than entering the medical sector by paying a lot of money, doing some business would assure him better financial security. A person studying 18 hours a day in the medical sector can hopefully do great elsewhere as well. Students who come to study medicine are for the service. However, money also plays a part. A doctor can be found working more than a few places. That is because he has spent millions in his education.
The services and facilities for doctors working in government hospitals are minimal, and insufficient to earn bread and butter for their families in Kathmandu. Consequently, doctors are found working in a few places. That is why, if a favorable environment is created, they do not have to work in several places.
In the end, what would you like to say about the Association poll and your candidacy?
Nepal Medical Association has been giving various contributions since the country was declared democratic. Talking about me, I am not directly vying for the leadership. I have a history of working in the Association for the last 10-12 years. The tenure that started as a secretary, turned to under-secretary and now to general secreatary. I have understood the Association very well and recognized what are the problems of doctors and what could be the solution. The number of young doctors has been increasing, and I, as their counterpart, can understand their sentiments. In this way, I think I have the capacity to drive leadership.
I and my entire panel are confident about the same. We will pay the debt of faith shown to us by working with honesty.