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Govt Revives Bill To Replace Medical Council

The government today revived the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill that seeks to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI), besides reducing costs of medical education in the private sector.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today sought a detailed presentation on the Bill that has been hanging fire for two years since NITI Aayog presented its draft to the ministry for action. The NMC Bill was last heard of in March 2018 when the Cabinet amended it in line with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health.

A revolutionary provision in the draft law proposes to regulate fee in 50 per cent of the private medical institutions and deemed universities. This fee will include all other charges taken by the colleges.

The principal objective of the Bill is to replace the Medical Council of India with a new body called the National Medical Commission with four autonomous wings to deal with — undergraduate education, postgraduate education, accreditations and medical ethics.

The Bill will also for the first time mandate that the final year MBBS exam will be treated as the exit test instead of subjecting medical undergraduates to an additional licentiate exam for the purpose of getting a licence to practise, as was earlier proposed.

In 2018, the Cabinet had approved that the final MBBS examination be held as a common exam throughout the country to serve as an exit test called the National Exit Test (NEXT). The same test would also serve as the screening test for doctors with foreign medical qualifications in order to practise in India. At present, persons with foreign medical degrees have to clear a separate test to be able to practise in India.

The Bill, in its present form, reflects two major suggestions made by the parliamentary panel — it treats the MBBS final exam as exit test across India for the purpose of granting practice licence instead of proposing a standalone exam after MBBS duration for the purpose and it drops the previous plan of a bridge course to enable Ayush practitioners to dispense modern medicine.

The NMC Bill also prescribes a jail term extending up to one year and fine extending up to Rs 5 lakh for quacks. It remains to be seen if the government will bring it in the coming Parliament session given its controversial nature.- Tribune India