Medical Commission Bill passed; doctors stir

Medical Commission Bill passed; doctors stir
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Highlights

Replaces corruption-plagued MCI

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the National Medical Commission Bill for replacing the corruption- plagued MCI with a new body, in what was described by the government as one of the biggest reforms for medical education in the country.

It was passed on a day when doctors are on a countrywide strike against the proposed legislation. The bill that seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act 1956 was approved by a voice vote in the Upper House, amid a walkout by AIADMK.

The bill will now go to the Lok Sabha again as two amendments need to be approved by it. The Lower House had already passed the National Medical Commission Bill 2019.

In his reply, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said "in no way the bill intends to promote quackery" as apprehended by a few members and added NEET is already an institutionalised body which is conducting examinations in 13 languages.

He said quacks are not being promoted and the legislation has strong provisions against wrong practices that include one year imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh fine as against a nominal fine by the MCI.

"Once the NMC Bill is approved, exit examination will be implemented in the next three years," the Minister said. He said 40,000 of the total 80,000 of MBBS seats are under government institutions and there will be a cap on fees too.

"The 40,000 seats under government has nominal fee...MCI had no provision for regulating fee or cap for private sector but now 50 per cent of the 40,000 seats with private colleges will be regulated with cap," he said.

The Minister said state governments can regulate the remaining 50 per cent seats. He added: "MPs said the representation of states is less in the NMC. Of the 25 members of the council, 11 are state representatives.

He said: "Syllabus takes into consideration the syllabus of various boards", adding National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) Counselling is completely transperant.

He also thanked senior Congress leader Ghulab Nabi Azad for his valuable suggestions and said that the good ideas of the previous govenrment have been implemented." Harsh Vardhan said: "National Medical Commission Bill is a major reform and is scripting a new history for medical education."

The bill also has a provision for making national standards in medical education uniform by proposing that the final year MBBS exam be treated as an entrance test for PG and a screening test for students who graduate in medicine from foreign countries.

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