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Doctors up in arms against National Medical Commission Bill

Doctors up in arms against National Medical Commission Bill
Highlights

BJPled NDA governments plans to get the contentious NMC National Medical Commission Bill passed in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament to...

Hyderabad: BJP-led NDA government's plans to get the contentious NMC (National Medical Commission) Bill passed in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament to replace MCI (Medical Council of India) is not likely to be a smooth affair with strong opposition from Indian Medical Association (IMA) and medical fraternity across the country. Although the Union Cabinet, in March this year, approved certain amendments to the draft Bill to appease the doctors’ fraternity, the IMA national body and all 29 state units are gearing up to hit the streets of New Delhi opposing it anytime.

It may be mentioned here that the Union Cabinet had approved the draft NMC Bill, which, it said, would bring the Indian health sector at par with world standards. In its original form, the Bill had provided a provision for an 'exit test', which was required to practice allopathy after obtaining an MBBS degree. However, it was later amended.

National president of the IMA Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, who is from Maharashtra, told this newspaper that they have chalked out plans to stall the Bill if the Union government goes ahead with its move. “BJP-led NDA, using its majority, might get the Bill cleared in the Lok Sabha, but the same will not be possible in the Rajya Sabha. We would impress upon all Opposition parties to ensure the Bill gets defeated in the Upper House of Parliament," he said.

It may be recalled that Dr Ravi Wankhedkar held a national-wide Bharat Yatra from February 25 to March 25 this year covering all states opposing Centre's plans, which he said would prove detrimental to the medical profession. Replacing an autonomous elected body of doctors (MCI) with a body of predominantly nominated members from non-medical background would do more harm than good, the IMA president said.

The strong resentment against the proposed Bill is due to the free hand to be given to private medical colleges and deemed universities to decide fees on their own for 50 per cent of medical seats. “In the name of regulating fee structure in medical colleges, what NMC would do is make medical education affordable only for rich and urban elite. If private medical colleges charge exorbitant fees citing some reasons, students from poor and even middle-class background would not be in a position to join and pursue medicine in private colleges.

It is not the bright students who will be passing out as doctors but only non-merit rich students, which is not good to society. This is nothing but fee lot and privatization of medical education," Dr Wankhedkar said, expressing concerns that the NMC Bill would pave way for corruption also bringing down standards.

IMA Telangana state president Dr T Narsinga Reddy and Secretary Dr Avula Bharat Prakash said that they were all prepared for any sudden call given by the national body to gather for a protest in New Delhi along with all other state associations to ensure MCI was not scrapped.

The MCI consists of elected representatives from allopathic doctors and representatives of states, who are also allopathic doctors only. The Centre is trying to dissolve this transparent body to bring in a commission consisting of appointed members from non-medical background, who will obviously have no idea about medical education. Because of strong opposition from entire doctors’ fraternity in the country and Opposition parties, the Centre had earlier referred the draft bill to a Standing Committee," Dr Bharat Prakash said.

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