Mumbai: Apart from the new year celebration, one more topic which is making news right now is the nationwide doctors’ strike opposing the National Medical Commission Bill 2017. We tried to analyse why there is furore among the doctors against the bill. Let’s analyse
What is National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2017?
Initially, in 1956, the Medical Council of India (MCI) was formulated to establish uniform standards of higher education qualifications in medicine and regulating it’s practice. The MCI regulated both the medical education as well as medical practice. Over the years, MCI has been criticised for it’s slow and unwieldy functioning as it regulates both the functions even though being a single body. Apart from this, several other issues like fee regulation, composition of MCI, separation of regulatory powers of medical practice and medical education, professional conduct, etc. have been reported. Because of these issues, an Expert Committee led by Prof. Ranjit Roy Chaudhury has examined the functioning of the MCI and suggested reconfiguring the structure of MCI to form NMC.
What would NMC 2017 do?
The NMC sets up four aggregation boards to perform four different regulatory functions under its supervision. It includes under-graduate medical education, post-graduate medical education, accreditation of medical institutions and the registration of doctors. The four boards are the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (UGMEB), Post-Graduate Medical Education Board (PGMEB), The Medical Assessment and Rating Board and The Ethics and Medical Registration Board.
This bill also regulates a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to under-graduate medical education in all medical institutions governed by the bill itself. There will also be a National Licentiate Examination for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice, and this exam will also serve as the basis for admission into post-graduate courses at medical institutions.
The proposal of this bill on January 2, 2018 has created a nationwide outcry of both the doctors as well as the medical students. About 2.9 lakhs doctors have been protesting against this bill.
The Indian Medical Association mentioned January 2, 2018 as Black day for medical practitioners across India.
The main reasons why IMA is opposing this bill are:
Under NMC, which is a pro-private management bill, will remove all the regulations required for starting a medical college and also removes the regulations to increase the number of UG/PG seats. IMA believes that it will pave the way for widespread corruption.
NMC allows private medical colleges to fix their own rates for about 60% or more medical seats which in turn allows only upto 40 percent of seats to be regulated by the Government which would prevent poor students from SC/ST classes to get medical education.
NMC’s huge loopholes in financial penalties ranging from 5 crores to 100 crores will lead to the floodgates of corruption.
The rules of NMC will make Medical Education in India as an expensive one, thereby, placing the lower socio-economic groups in great disadvantage.
Since only 5 States will be represented in NMC at any point of time, the other 24 will be unrepresented thereby denying them their privileges.
The State Medical Councils which are sovereign bodies through enactment of State legislations will come directly under NMC.
The Medical Universities do not have a representation in NMC. One per state will be represented in an advisory body called Medical Advisory Council.
A Medical Bill like NMC without the concurrence of the Medical Profession and Medical Association, will be a disaster, as per IMA.
This Bill is anti-people, since it is pro-rich and pro-private management. The cost of medical education and healthcare will rise astronomically.
It is anti-patient, since it permits and promotes unscientific mixing of systems of medicine. It closes the gates for Indian Medical Graduates while it opens the gates for foreign doctors and foreign educated medical graduate.
Apart from these, NMC allows ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, to practice modern medicine once they complete a short term “bridge” course which will lead to further chaos.
The IMA, Doctors and Medical Students have their own reasons for opposing the bill resulting in the clash of the central government and the IMA council.