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Ramesh Shankar
Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Parliamentary Standing Committee attached to the Union Health Ministry has recently joined the bandwagon of country’s doctors calling for the creation of an Indian Medical Services (IMS) on the lines of All India Civil Services such as IAS, IPS and IFS. Appreciating and recognising the role of doctors as corona warriors in combating Covid-19, the Parliamentary panel headed by Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Verma in its report tabled in Parliament noted that creation of such a cadre would be handy for the implementation of various flagship programmes of the government related to health. The panel noted that the moment is the golden opportunity to explore the possibility of organizing IMS as it would provide efficient healthcare managers to enhance the success rate of healthcare projects and make policy programmes and specific course of action for fighting against lethal diseases. In view of the situation arising out of the coronavirus pandemic that had stressed the need for improving the healthcare infrastructure in the country, the Parliamentary panel’s recommendation for a separate cadre for healthcare professionals holds water. The Parliamentary panel’s views are in consonance to the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and The Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) which have long been demanding for setting up such an exclusive Service to bring about a drastic change in the healthcare sector.  Besides, as early as in 1961, the Mudaliar Committee in its report had also recommended to the government for the formation of a central healthcare cadre.  

As per the recommendation of the doctors’ associations such as IMA and FORDA, the IMS will be responsible for holding the administrative responsibilities pertaining to the district medical officers, project officers of various disease control programmes, and the various ranks of secretaries in the Union health ministry and the state health departments and the heads of all other areas in the health sector.  Basic qualification to be eligible for the IMS examination should be MBBS, and the exams can be conducted like other UPSC exams. Terms of service conditions, posting, recruitment, and other criteria can be similar to those applicable to the IAS and IPS. It is not that the government is not seized of the issue. In fact, successive governments have looked at this issue, but there has not been much progress on this front so far. More recently, in 2017, the Central government had expressed its interest in creating the Indian Medical Service on the lines of IAS and IPS. Following this, the health ministry had sent a circular to the states asking for their views on such a move. However, even after years, no further action has been taken with regard to the formation. Now, the challenges driven by the Covid-19 pandemic has reinvigorated the demand from the medical fraternity for the creation of a separate cadre of Indian Medical Service. It is true that the creation of the IMS cadre has become more relevant in the times of coronavirus pandemic, whereby doctors from various specialities can devise effective strategies for controlling the epidemic and improving the overall healthcare system in the future. Covid has exposed the lack of coordination and collaboration between the public and private sector in view of the inadequacy of health facilities. Given these circumstances, the IMS could be a game-changer as it would bridge the gap between decision-making and delivery.


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