Doctors call off strike after government defers National Medical Commission Bill

Members of Indian Medical Association, Shivamogga Branch, Junior Doctors Association and Medical Students Association stage a demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Shivamogga on Monday against the proposed National Medical Commission Bill.   | Photo Credit: Vaidya

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) called off its 12-hour strike on Tuesday after the government referred the controversial National Medical Commission Bill, tabled in the Lok Sabha, to a Standing Committee.

The strike was to have lasted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and doctors, who were members of the IMA and its associated bodies, were to boycott out-patient departments. “The strike is called off as the Bill has been deferred,” said K.K. Aggarwal, former president, IMA. “Our next step would be to convince the Committee of the many flaws in the Bill.”

The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017, seeks to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new body. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the Bill had been referred to the Standing Committee.

He requested the Chair to ask the panel to give its recommendation prior to the Budget session, even as Health Minister J.P. Nadda told the Rajya Sabha that the NMC would be “beneficial to the medical profession.”

The Bill proposes a government-nominated chairman and members, who will be selected by a committee under the Cabinet Secretary. The medical fraternity is opposing the clause, fearing that the body would effectively be run by the government. The Bill also allows practitioners of Ayurveda and other traditional Indian systems of medicine the licence to prescribe allopathic drugs after they have passed a ‘bridge course.’

In its current form, the Bill does away with the MCI and bring in a national licentiate examination.

The government claims that the Bill will ease the processes for colleges to manage undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Earlier, the MCI’s approval was needed for establishing, renewing, recognising and increasing seats in an undergraduate course. Under the new proposal, permission needs to be sought only for establishment and recognition.

The IMA saidthat the NMC would not be “national” as it did not represent all States. In its merging of Ayush with modern medicine, it posed a potential threat to patients and was as risky as an untested medical “trial.”

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 9:46:11 AM |

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