Saturday, 26 November 2016

BMJ reports Satyagraha

BMJ reports Satyagraha Doctors protest against bill to dissolve the Medical Council of India BMJ 2016; 355 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6259 (Published 22 November 2016) Priyanka Pulla Around 270 000 doctors across India took to the streets on 16 November to protest against the newly proposed National Medical Commission bill which seeks to dissolve the Medical Council of India (MCI) and replace it with a body of 20 members who would be nominated by the government.1 K K Aggarwal, the president elect of the Indian Medical Association, told The BMJ that the association was strongly opposed to the idea of a regulatory body with no elected members, and with members from fields other than medicine.2 In March this year a parliamentary panel urged the government to dismantle the Medical Council of India, saying that it could no longer be trusted with its responsibilities in view of its “massive failures.”3 It also said that the council had not done enough to tackle corruption in the medical profession. It recommended that a new regulatory agency be established and a draft bill creating a 20 member National Medical Commission, a new apex body for medical education, was published in August.1 The Indian Medical Association wants to retain the current structure of the MCI—with two thirds of the body elected and one third nominated—Aggarwal said. “They can’t replace a 130 member body with a 20 member body that is completely nominated,” he said, equating the action with dissolving the Indian parliament and replacing it with a group of nominated members. The association postponed countrywide protests against the proposed bill last year after the government agreed to meet leaders to discuss their demands.2 The Indian Medical Association is calling for a new law to protect doctors against violence; for the enforcement of existing laws that stop alternative medicine practitioners from prescribing modern drugs; for changes to laws to exempt doctors from penalties for clerical mistakes, for the end to cumbersome requirements for single doctor hospitals such as the maintenance of electronic health records and minimum staff numbers; and for the introduction of a cap on the amount of compensation paid to victims of malpractice. But the association has been frustrated with the slow progress in meeting these demands and is calling for the health minister, J P Nadda, to intervene. “Nadda has been saying for the last two years that he agreed with our demands in principle, but we want results,” Aggarwal told The BMJ. Aggarwal said that corruption in the Medical Council of India was just a matter of perception and that the current council had taken steps to quell this notion, including implementing a common entrance exam for medical colleges across India, tackling the issue of capitation fees, and introducing biometric identification cards for medical college faculties to ensure that they met their teaching commitments. He said that the association was planning to submit to the government a list of amendments to the act to ensure more transparent working of the council. References 1. Mudur G. Draft bill for new regulatory structure for medicine in India prompts criticism. BMJ 2016;354:i4541. 2. Bagcchi S. Indian Medical Association calls off protest after government agrees to discuss demands. BMJ. 2015;351:h6194. 3. Mudur G. Indian medical council should be scrapped, says parliamentary committee. BMJ2016;352:i1610. (Source: BMJ)

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