National Medical Commission will ensure standardisation: Harsh Vardhan

New Act will improve medical education, says Union Health Minister

October 14, 2019 01:16 am | Updated 09:53 am IST - New Delhi

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. File

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. File

Despite protests by doctors, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says the recently enacted National Medical Commission Act, 2019, will provide for a medical education system that improves access to quality and affordable medical education and ensure availability of adequate and quality medical professionals in all parts of the country

What is the manpower required and the cost of implementing the ambitious NMC Act in India?

As of now, none. You see, the National Medical Commission will be a body comprising 33 members, in addition to the four Autonomous Boards and a Medical Advisory Council.

The officers and employees will be appointed by the Commission after its constitution.

There would be no additional financial implications on behalf of the Central government. All the expenses will be met from the existing funds of MCI [Medical Council of India] and is not expected to exceed beyond the current expenses of the MCI.

What ground work is in place for the implementation?

The Act has been notified on August 8, 2019 and on August 9, 2019 we have requested all States, State Medical Councils and Ministry of Home Affairs (in respect of UTs) to nominate representatives for the Medical Advisory Council. Rules under the NMC Act are being drafted. On receipt of the nominations and after finalising the rules, the government will constitute the National Medical Commission.

Further, certain provisions of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, with regard to constitution of various bodies under it and making of rules have been brought into force vide the notification dated September 2, 2019.

Currently in India, the fee for medical school ranges from ₹10,000 to ₹45 lakh a year. How will this get standardised? Why will private medical schools agree to cut fees?

The whole idea of the NMC Act is to bring about standardisation and good governance as mandated by our leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In this context then, the NMC Act states that the fee of the State government medical colleges will continue to be regulated by the States.

The guidelines for determination of fee and all other charges for 50% seats of private medical colleges and deemed universities will be framed by the Commission. The guidelines so framed will be statutory in nature and binding on the private medical colleges and deemed universities.

This will allow objective, periodic and transparent assessment of medical institutions and facilitate maintenance of a medical register for India and enforce high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services.

We are also bringing in an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

How will the medical school ranking system work?

The Act has just been notified and this activity will be taken up. The Medical Assessment and Rating Board under the Commission will develop the system for rating of the medical colleges and which will be duly specified in the regulations. The performance of the students in the National Exit Test (NEXT) would be one of the criteria for rating of medical colleges.

How will the NMC help students who have graduated from foreign medical colleges?

The National Exit Test (NEXT) will be the basis for grant of licence to practice medicine in the country. There shall be equal treatment for both foreign medical graduates and Indian graduates. We also expect under the new legislation, due to simplification of procedures, a spurt in the number of medical seats, increasing opportunity for medical students in India.

What is the rate at which students are leaving the country in search of a medical degree and how many are returning?

The first step, irrespective of trends is that, qualifying NEET is mandatory to take admission in primary medical qualification i.e. MBBS or equivalent abroad.

The data regarding the number of such students is not maintained in the Ministry, so you tell me, what such rate have you come to know of?

This being said, in the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE) conducted by the National Board of Examinations in June 2019, around 13,000 candidates had appeared which also includes candidates who did not qualify the exam in their earlier attempts.

Will the NMC ensure that there is a greater reverse flow of Indian foreign medical graduates?

We sure hope so. The Act has been developed keeping all these issues in mind. A large number of medical colleges are being established in the country for which faculty, residents, etc. will be required. Thus, ample opportunities are available in the country. Further, steps to attract foreign faculty will be taken after constitution of the Commission.

Is there a pay disparity between foreign and Indian medical graduates in government and private hospitals?

I need to clarify this. The pay and allowances for the doctors in the government medical colleges/hospitals are decided by the respective State governmentd and for private medical colleges/hospitals, the same is decided by the employer. My Ministry i.e. the Central government does not have any role in determination of pay of doctors. Ideally there should be no pay disparity between foreign and Indian medical graduates once they get permanent registration with a State Medical Council and earn the right to practice in India.

What is the targeted increase in medical colleges and teachers in the next decade?

The effort to resolve the issue of medical HR shortage in the country have been on ever since the NDA came to power in 2014. In the past five years, 158 new medical colleges have been established and around 29,000 MBBS seats increased.

Further, the government is running a Centrally sponsored scheme for establishment of new medical colleges and Phase III of the scheme has recently been announced. This would result in more government medical colleges in the near future.

We expect rapid growth in UG/PG seats in the country under the new legislation. The Commission has also been mandated to ensure availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals in the country.

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