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NMC Bill Ignores Healthcare Interests

The passage of National Medical Commission (NMC) bill in the Lok Sabha on July 29, 2019 will always be a black day in the India’s healthcare history. No doubt the Medical Council of India (MCI) had lost its credibility, more so after the exposure of corrupt practices by it’s the then president Dr Ketan Desai. There were several reports of connivance of some higher-ups in the medical council with the private medical colleges.

This had caused disenchantment among the concerned persons in the medical fraternity and civil society who had demanded revamping of the body. They had also submitted suggestions to the government on this point. There was needed to take effective measures to correct the wrong doings in the medical council. But the NMC tabled in the parliament and passed in hush hush manner is fraught with several negative implications in the coming period.

The MCI was essentially a democratic body with representatives from medical fraternity through elections as well as representation from various state bodies. The national medical commission on the other hand has 80% appointed members with no space for democracy. They are likely to be puppets of the government in future. Any decision of the NMC could be thwarted by the government. This is killing the autonomy of such a prestigious constitutional institution as has been done with several other organizations in the recent past. The NMC is totally bureaucratized and centralized body with powers to forcefully implement regulations in the states without considering interests of the state. This will kill the concept of federalism of the country.

The whole exercise is to give free hand to the private sector in the medical education because the government will have fee regulation of only 50% seats. Rest would be left to the whims of the managements of the private medical institutions. The central government will reserve the right to grant permission to the medical colleges without minimum requirements not considering the opinion of the NMC.

Another totally unwanted clause is the introduction of National Exit Test (NEXT) for the MBBS graduates form medical colleges in India. This will put those students who have cleared the MBBS exam to unnecessary burden before getting a license to practice. Graduates who have already cleared the exam are denied to sit for the second attempt to get PG seat. Moreover no second chance to improve marks to get a better PG seat for those who are yet to take the final year exam will be allowed. Marks of one time will be criteria for PG admission lifelong. Since the NEXT will be clubbed with Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE), the chances of Indian graduates getting PG seat will be much reduced.

The clause of compulsory meetings with councils of AYUSH to develop interdisciplinary curriculum is nothing short of moving towards bridge course. The parallel entry to practice modern medicine via new cadre of community health workers will bring down the standard of healthcare and lead to undesirable practices. Foreign citizens will be allowed to practice in India without any conditions, regulations or license. This will in the long run put our population in to risk through the involvement of various multinational pharmaceutical companies.

There were much expectations as the health minister is a doctor himself. Passage of such a bill under his nose raises finger as to the ideology working behind. This bill has to be opposed tooth and nail with an appeal to the parliamentarians in the Rajya Sabha not to toe the party line but to keep eyes open in the wider interest of the countrymen. (IPA) – Daily Excelsior

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