IMA, Health Ministry lock horns

The Indian Medical Association and the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry are headed for a face off over the government’s proposal to allow Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani , Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) practitioners and paramedical staff to perform abortions on pregnant women under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment Bill. The IMA has already expressed reservations about the proposal.

Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda recently informed Parliament that the government was of the view that expanding the provider base with strict conditionalities would enhance access and availability of safe abortion services without compromising on quality of service.

He said requisite training and certification, which would be specified in the rules, would be provided to the AYUSH practitioners for allowing them to perform the procedure.

Opposing this, the IMA, representing as many as 2.5 lakh allopathic practitioners, said the proposal could put patients at risk as well as allow unethical practices and sex selective abortions.

Reacting to the Minister’s statement in Parliament, IMA functionaries said the body was opposed to the government’s proposal to start a one-year course for AYUSH doctors which will allow them to practice modern medicine.

“Section 15 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, states that no person other than a medical practitioner enrolled on a State Medical Register shall practice medicine in any State. Any person who acts in contravention of this shall be punished with imprisonment of one year or fine of Rs.1,000 or both,” the IMA said in a statement.

Citing the case of Dr. Mukhtiar Chand vs State of Punjab, it said the Supreme Court has held that practice of modern system of medicine by Indian System of Medicine (ISM) qualified professionals was possible provided such professionals are enrolled in the State Medical Register for practitioners of modern medicine maintained by the State Medical Council. The respective State governments can notify and give recognition to qualifications eligible for registration in the State Medical Register.

No shortage

According to the IMA, responding to the Ministry’s request to consider amending their respective State laws relating to registration of practitioners of modern scientific medicine and provide an enabling provision to allow the enrolment of an ISM professional in the State Medical Register, States like Kerala have said they do not have shortage of doctors of modern medicine for posting in primary health centres as a large number of medical graduates will be passing out from the colleges in the State in the next few years.

“Goa strongly opposed the matter. Rajasthan said initiating registration of AYUSH doctors in State Medical Register will complicate matters and dilute the efforts of bringing them into the mainstream. Under NRHM, services of AYUSH practitioners are utilised for providing essential new-born care services, managing common childhood illness, counselling on family planning methods and most importantly, they render their services as Skilled Birth Attendants,” the IMA said.

IMA slams move

to allow AYUSH practitioners and paramedics to terminate pregnancy

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