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IMA stand on NMC Bill can seriously hit functioning of hospitals across country

Arun Srinivasan, New Delhi
Tuesday, January 2, 2018, 14:00 Hrs  [IST]

A nationwide furore over the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2017 has intensified with the Indian Medical Association’s decision to go ahead with its 12-hour protest today.

The Bill that seeks to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new regulatory body has rattled the country's medical fraternity. Tabled in Parliament by Federal Health Minister JP Nadda last week, it gives practitioners of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy green light to practise modern medicine and prescribe allopathic drugs after attending a ‘bridge’ course.

A top team from the Indian Medical Association met Nadda in New Delhi yesterday and raised their concerns. Talking to Chronicle Pharmabiz after the meeting, IMA Secretary General Dr RN Tandon said the Bill would cripple the functioning of medical professionals by making them completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators. “The Bill in its present form is unacceptable. It is anti-poor, non-representative, undemocratic and anti-federal in character. It will hamper the government’s stated goal of universal and affordable healthcare,” he added.

The association, the country’s professional body of doctors, is at the forefront of the protest against the draft bill arguing that it will seriously impede the democratic functioning of the profession.

The association says the bill is aimed at bringing in doctors involved in alternative medical practices into modern medicine sector through the backdoor and it will only help promote quackery. In Kerala, medical students have started an indefinite hunger strike against the Bill.

“We stand by the students’ stir. Today’s protest is aimed at sending a stern message. If the government refuses to budge, we will intensify the protest to protect the interests of the common man,” Dr Tandon added.

The former president of IMA Dr KK Aggarwal had urged the government to redraft the Bill and rectify some of its provisions to protect the interest of the medical practitioners."The Bill takes away the voting right of every doctor in India to elect their medical council," he opined.

The Bill, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on December 18, aims at setting up a transparent regulatory mechanism for healthcare. Its first draft was brought about by the NITI Aayog and drew from the 92nd Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health.

Some other provisions of the Bill also ruffled a few feathers. For instance, colleges will be allowed to start post-graduate courses and increase intake of students all on their own – without seeking permission from the NMC.

There will also be a Medical Advisory Council (MAC) to aid the NMC. It will serve as a platform for states to put their views forward to the commission. The Council is expected to have members nominated from states and union territories and include the members of the NMC as ex-officio members. Doctors will have to pass an exit examination on graduating from their MBBS courses to get a licence to practise. The same exam will be used as the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Neet) for post-graduate courses. The NMC will consist of four autonomous boards to look at different aspects of medical education and registration.

 

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