By Nisha Rai Dharan, May 12: Locals of Dharan, especially youth, have been staging a sit-in for 40 days demanding an end to irregularities in B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS), also known as Ghopa Camp.
Since April 2, the youth have been gathering in front of the Dental Gate at 4 pm everyday under the banner ‘Save Ghopa Campaign’. The campaign’s main demand is to improve the system and services of the BPKIHS.
The Ghopa Camp has been a major health institution for people across eastern Nepal for the past two decades. However, the locals stated that the autonomous government institution has been falling prey to corruption directly affecting health services delivered to the public.
The movement initiated by Hami Nepal, a non-profit organisation, was later joined by the youth and locals of Dharan.
“Recently, there has been a lack of medical equipment in the BPKIHS. Patients are bound to stay in long queues and are treated on the floors in the emergency ward.
People are waiting months for basic surgeries and the lab results arrive too late. It is why we initiated the campaign and called the youths to the streets,” said Sadan Gurung, coordinator of Hami Nepal.
Hami Nepal had also organised campaigns in Kathmandu and Pokhara where youth had gathered and demanded reforms at the BPKIHS.
“We will continue the protest until irregularities like corruption and nepotism in jobs and health services end at the Ghopa Camp,” said Gurung.
Youths as well as elderlies have also been addressing the campaign daily and sharing the hurdles they faced while availing health services from the BPKIHS.
The campaign has also put forth a set of demands including a probe into the BPKIHS by a high-level committee and action against the perpetrators. They have also demanded transparency in the procurement process.
“Appointing employees and officials at the BPKIHS politically should be stopped. Politics have prevailed over health services in the institution. As a result, we, locals are bound to avail poor services,” said Pratik Rai, a youth from Ward No. 11 of Dharan Sub Metropolitan City.
Sujan Moktan, a youth from Ward No. 15 of the sub metropolitan city, said, “The administration has failed to manage necessary infrastructure at the hospital due to which we are bound to visit the private hospitals despite having a government health institution of highest quality in our locality.”
Several committees formed earlier to probe the BPKIHS have also highlighted corruption in several sectors including procurement of medical equipment.
A high-level committee led by Minister for Health and Population Birodh Khatiwada, who is also the pro-chancellor of the BPKIHS, on November, 2021, had submitted a report to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.
The report had concluded that the BPKIHS officials abused their authority, acted improperly and committed financial irregularities.
BPKIHS officials including Vice Chancellor Dr. Gyanendra Giri, Rector Prof. Dr. Guru Prasad Khanal, Registrar Dr. Mohan Chandra Regmi and Director Dr. Gaurishankar Sah are accused of embezzling millions of rupees while purchasing health materials and constructing physical infrastructure.
The investigation committee had earlier asked the accused officials to furnish clarifications but it stated that they were not able to provide satisfactory explanations. However, no action has been initiated against the accused officials yet.