Microbiology graduates demand licence


Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, August 20: Stating that licensing procedure was discriminatory, microbiology graduates and students have urged the Nepal Health Professional Council to issue licences M.Sc Medical Microbiology graduates of Tribhuvan University. NHPC is issuing licences only to  M.Sc Clinical Microbiology graduates of Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine, BPKIHS and those who have studied in other colleges in India or abroad except in Tribhuvan University. 

The council does not issue licences to microbiology students who graduate from the Central Department of  Microbiology of Tribhuvan University and affiliated colleges of Institute of Science and Technology.

Tribhuvan University has been running microbiology programme for the last 30 years. But the graduates have not been issued licences. There are about 2,000 microbiologists in the country and many are deprived of licenses.Graduates who formed Microbiologist Struggle committee (including current students), have demanded to immediately re-open name registration in the council which was halted by the NHPC in 2011.

The NHPC had issued temporary licences to 116 microbiologists at that time. The National Public Health Laboratory, in its letter to NHPC in 2011 had asked it not to halt issuing licences. But the procedure was halted following a writ petition filed in the Supreme Court.

The students and graduates have demanded that permission be given to graduates to teach microbiology in different levels of various educational institutions. The NHPC has also made it mandatory to hold a licence for teaching programmes like MBBS, BDS, Health Assistant, Pharmacy and Public Health. 

They have also demanded to formulate public health microbiology guidelines and establish a microbiology council and a microbiology research centre, besides including microbiology programme at schools. “We have been teaching students as per the guidelines of the NHPC.  

We have also submitted Rs 80,000 along with an application to the NHPC for inspection visits, but no one came for inspection,” said Megha Raj Banjara, Head of Central Department of Microbiology at TU. 

Microbiologists are able to conduct diagnosis tests, identify cause of infectious diseases, suggest measures for disease control and are also capable of teaching at universities and guide research students. 

There is no point in barring students from acquiring licences, said Bhupendra Lama, member of the struggle committee.The council has been issuing licences to those studying in medical institutions but hasn’t issued licences to those studying in the university.

It also awards licences to those who have acquired equivalence certificates from the Tribhuvan University after completing their studies at universities in India, Bangladesh and other countries, in the faculty of science and technology, said Lama. Microbiologists have in-depth knowledge on public health, food and agriculture depending on their specialization. 

Medical microbiologists help in monitoring anti-microbial resistance, multi-drug resistance, infectious disease detection, prevention and control.

Environmental and public health microbiologists do research on drinking water and  infectious disease prevention and other areas of concern for Public health, whereas food microbiologist works in food, pharma and beverage industries to check the microbial quality and contamination of food materials. Graduates of Microbiology can work as scientists in production of antibiotics, antibody, steroids, vaccines and hormone, said Banjara.

“Curriculum should be approved before running the course. As the Central Department, TU has failed to do so, we can’t issue licences to its students,” said Ram Prasad Bhandari, chairman of NHPC, adding that NHPC is set to hold a dialogue with the Central Department, TU  regarding the issue.

Note: This article was initially published in The Himalayan Times.