IMA appeals to Modi to recall draft National Medical Commission Bill

‘The NMC, if set up, will cripple democratic functioning of medical profession’

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to recall the draft National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017, recently approved by the Union Cabinet, arguing that it will “seriously impede the democratic functioning of the medical profession”.

The NMC Bill, aimed at replacing the existing Medical Council of India, will have a 25-member commission nominated by the Union government. “This will cripple the democratic functioning of the medical profession by making it completely answerable to the bureaucracy. The proposed NMC is devoid of federal character and is non-representative half non-medical body. It will be a poor substitute for MCI,” said IMA president K.K. Aggarwal.

“Except for five members, who will be elected by the registered medical practitioners from amongst themselves, all other members of the commission will be nominated. This will be a regulator appointed by the administrators under their direct control,” Dr. Aggarwal told The Hindu.

However, several senior doctors have welcomed the Bill and said that it is a long-awaited change in Indian healthcare. Sudarshan Ballal, Chairman of Manipal Hospitals, said the Bill is “conceptually good.” The Bill seems to be student-friendly with clarity in fees and hassle-free for medical colleges with less regulations and ease of running the institutions, he said. “There will be one entry and one exit exam, which is good for students,” he said.

Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman of Narayana Health, termed it as a progressive move by the Government. “The clause pertaining to recognition of other medical qualifications is misinterpreted. I request the Government to have a few more doctors in the Commission,” he said.

NMC structure

The IMA’s main issue is with representation. According to the draft Bill, while all the State Governments have representation in MCI now, only five States in rotation will have representation in the NMC as a result of which it will take two decades for a state to re-enter.

“Twenty members of the commission will be appointed by a search committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary. Nomination will be done for 12 ex-officio and 6 part-time members. Three of these will be from disciplines such as management, law, medical ethics, health research, consumer or patient rights advocacy, science and technology, and economics,” he explained, quoting the draft copy.

The Bill provides for the constitution of four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting UG and PG courses, assessment and accreditation of medical institutions and registration of practitioners under NMC.

Dr. Aggarwal said a team of 50 doctors and medical students will meet all MPs in Delhi to urge them not to vote in favour of the Bill. “We are waiting for the Bill to be available on public domain after which we will raise our objections clause by clause. As of now, we demand that it should not be passed in its present form without mature deliberations,” he said.

Meanwhile, K.V. Babu, core committee member of Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Care and a health activist from Kerala, said MCI should be dismantled immediately as per the report of the Parliament Standing Committee submitted in March 2016 that said MCI is a tainted body. “A new board should be appointed till a new mechanism is in place. Whether it is a new MCI or NMC is for Parliament to decide,” he said.

The contentious clause

The IMA is mainly upset about Clause 35 of the proposed NMC pertaining to the recognition of other medical qualifications. “The Central government may by notification in the official gazette include medical qualifications granted by any other body in India under Schedule IV to this Act, which shall be recognised qualification as may be prescribed by the Central government in this regard,” said IMA president K.K. Aggarwal.

This is totally opposite to the the provisions of The Indian Medical Council Act, which says that no person other than a medical practitioner enrolled on a State Medical Register shall practice medicine in any State, he pointed out.

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 6:04:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/ima-appeals-to-modi-to-recall-draft-national-medical-commission-bill/article22277472.ece

Next Story