For the second time in two weeks, the Tribhuvan University has directed its Institute of Medicine (IoM) to grant affiliation to medical colleges. Issuing a letter on Friday, the university asked the IoM to call a meeting of the Faculty Board within the next week and end the affiliation row.
The letter states that as the decision of the IoM standing committee failed to address the concerns of the TU chancellor , Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, and the pro-chancellor, Education Minister Chitra Lekha Yadav, the IoM should immediately call a full meeting of the Faculty Board to decide on the matter.
The university was referring to the emergency meeting of the standing committee in the first week of March that failed to decide about granting affiliation to medical colleges as directed by PM Koirala.
Acting TU Registrar Dev Raj Adhikari confirmed that the directive was sent to the IoM on Friday. “We have nothing to do on the matter. We are just executing the directives from the PM and the education minister in their capacity,” Adhikari said. “We issued the second directive as the IoM failed to take a decision on the matter.”
Koirala on February 13 had directed the ministry to start the affiliation process of medical colleges that have fulfilled all the legal requirements and have infrastructure to run MBBS programmes . This directive was in sharp contrast to his own decision on November 10, 2014, not to grant affiliation to new colleges. Sources said the latest directive from the TU is to exert pressure on the IoM to grant affiliation to mainly three colleges—Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences , Kathmandu National Medical College and People’s Dental College . Though 12 medical colleges have got the Letter of Intent from the ministry, the three have been influence for the past two years to acquire affiliation to the TU.
The Manmohan Institute has investment from CPN-UML leaders while the party’s lawmaker Rajendra Pandey is its chairman. Similarly, the National Medical College is an extension of the Birgunj-based National Medical College promoted by UCPN (Maoist) loyalist Basaruddhin Ansari and People’s Dental College is run by Sunil Sharma, who is close to the Maoist party too.
The Faculty Board, which is the IoM’s highest authority for academic activities, can decide on college affiliation. A two-thirds majority of the 32-member board should endorse the decision to permit new affiliations. The members include IoM office bearers, faculty doctors and representatives from the ministries of Education and Health.
IoM sources said despite such pressure tactics, there are slim chances of new medical colleges getting affiliation as a majority of Board members say the institute cannot handle any more affiliations.
IoM Dean Dr Rakesh Shriwastav said it is not possible to call a meeting of the Faculty Board within seven days. “We cannot decide on such an important issue in haste,” he said. There are some who say that granting affiliation to new medical colleges means provoking protests from Dr Govinda KC, senior orthopaedic surgeon who has staged fast-unto-death four times in the past against the affiliation process. Dr KC on Thursday warned of staging hunger strike against the recent developments.
Source: This article by Binod Ghimire & Manish Gautam was originally published in The Kathmandu Post on 14th March.