NMC dragging its feet on ‘Charak Shapath’?

File photo of MBBS students being administered the Hippocratic Oath.

File photo of MBBS students being administered the Hippocratic Oath. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The National Medical Commission (NMC) seems to be not keen on enforcing the original ‘Charak Shapath’ it had proposed for undergraduate medical students while they are being initiated into the profession.

The Draft Regulations for registered medical practitioners, recently put in the public domain by the Ethics and Medical Registration Board of the NMC, do not have any reference to the oath attributed to the ancient Indian sage, Maharshi Charak. Instead, they have included Geneva Declarations of 2017, called the ‘Physician’s Pledge’. These regulations, once approved after incorporating changes and suggestions from people, stakeholders, experts, and organisations, are going to be binding on doctors.

The NMC’s reported move to enforce Charak Shapath had snowballed into a controversy, with organisations such as the Indian Medical Association opposing it. The dean of a medical college in Madurai in Tamil Nadu was removed from his post earlier this month after first-year students took the ‘shapath’. He was reinstated after an apology was tendered.

In reply to a starred question in the Lok Sabha, “Whether the government intends to replace the Hippocratic Oath with Charak Shapath and the National Medical Commission has proposed this replacement?,” the NMC had said on March 22 that it had not proposed anything of that sort. This was revealed through a query under the Right to Information Act. The response was given on May 27 to K.V. Babu, Kannur-based ophthalmologist.

The Under Graduate Medical Education Board (UGMEB) of the commission had earlier proposed a modified version in its guidelines for the Competency-Based Medical Education for Undergraduate Course Curriculum. “Modified Charak Shapath is recommended when a candidate is introduced to the medical profession,” they said. The points mentioned in the guidelines, however, were vastly different from the original Charak Shapath. Dr. Babu has got copies of the original text and its transliterated and modified versions.

“If the NMC is serious about the ‘shapath’, it can enforce the oath through regulations. The reply to the question in Parliament and the so-called modified Charak Shapath have nothing to do with the original provided by the NMC as a reply to my RTI query. This is a clear pointer to the commission dragging its feet on the issue,” Dr. Babu added.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2022 9:05:20 am |