KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Thousands of doctors in Nepal stayed away from work at clinics and hospitals Wednesday to support a colleague who has been on a hunger strike for 10 days demanding reforms in medical education and services.
More than 5,000 doctors took part in the action and only emergency services were open in hospitals across the Himalayan nation, said Dr. Nirmal Rimal of the Nepal Medical Association.
The strike left most people in Nepal without access to doctors.
The physicians are supporting Dr. Govinda K.C., who is demanding that the government make medical education affordable to more students and medical services available to all citizens.
Only three of Nepal's 20 medical colleges are run by the government. The private colleges charge huge fees and are unaffordable for the majority of the population.
K.C. is also alleging widespread corruption among officials in granting permits to private medical colleges and is demanding that the officials be dismissed and punished.
The government formed a committee to negotiate with the doctors, but there was no agreement reached to end the strike.
K.C. had gone on a 15-day hunger strike last year for similar demands. He resumed eating and doctors withdrew their protests after the government assured them of changes in the medical education system. K.C. now says the government has not done enough.
Hundreds of supporters lined up Wednesday to visit K.C. at Kathmandu's Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital, where he lies in a hospital bed weak from hunger.
A group of doctors briefly scuffled with police officers while protesting outside the Nepal Medical Council office in Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.