Monday, 18 December 2017

Straight from the Heart: National Medical Commission - After the storm

The Union Cabinet has effectively ended the era of Medical Council of India.
The citadel of modern medicine which initiated every young man and woman to the noble profession to alleviate the pain and suffering will now cease to exist.
The glorious era of MCI, which produced doctors of international caliber to serve the humankind as global doctors will come to an end. It will be replaced by a near total Government department called National Medical Commission.
IMA has been opposing NMC in its present form.
Devoid of federal character, this non-representative half non-medical body will be a poor substitute for the MCI. NMC will not represent the medical profession of India.
  1. Anywhere in the world, medical profession is bestowed with reasonable autonomy. Patient care and Patient safety are the main benefits of such autonomy. 
  2. Regulators need to have autonomy and be independent of the administrators.  The National Medical Commission will be a regulator appointed by the administrators under their direct control.      
  3. It abolishes Medical Council of India and along with it possibly the section 15 of IMC Act, which says that the basic qualification to practice modern medicine is MBBS.
  4. It takes away the voting right of every doctor in India to elect their medical council. Medical Council of India is a representative body of the medical profession in India.  Any registered medical practitioner in the country can contest the election and every qualified doctor can vote.Abolishing a democratic institution and replacing it by a body in which majority are nominated by the Government is certainly a retrograde step.
  5. It allows the private medical colleges to charge at free will nullifying whatever solace NEET brought. The Government can fix the fee for only 40 percent of the seats in private medical colleges.
  6. Instituting a Medical Licentiate exam after qualifying in final MBBS exam is an injustice. It is highly insensitive to the plight of medical students who even otherwise must undergo a long and tortuous academic career chequered with highly competitive exams.
  7. The federal character of MCI is not found in NMC.All the state Governments have representation in MCI. Only 5 states in rotation will have representation in NMC. It will take two decades for a state to re-enter NMC.
  8. All universities teaching medicine are members of MCI. This has been abolished in NMC.
  9. All state medical councils, which are sovereign bodies constituted by state legislatures have been made subservient to NMC striking a blow to the federal nature of the nation.
  10. Professional organizations like IMA are registered under Societies Act. In no way their independence and freedom of action could be subjected to Government control. In fact, they remain the only whistle blowers, being the voice of voiceless in the issues of Health. Such corrective forces are part and parcel of the democratic forces in the country. NMC has been vested with powers to control all professional bodies.
  11. IMA has a representative in DNB board but not in NMC.
  12. It inducts non-medical people into the highest body of medical governance changing its perspective and character forever.
  13. It introduces schedule IV to allow AYUSH graduates to get registration in Modern Medicine.
  14. It opens the floodgates of PG seats in modern medicine to AYUSH graduates in future by providing registration to them in schedule IV.
  15. It directly affects Patient Care and Patient Safety by allowing graduates of other systems to practice modern medicine.
  16. This is not the first time that the Government has made such a move. In 2005, the then Union health minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, tried unsuccessfully to bring in a legislation to dissolve the MCI and set up another council under the control of the Health Ministry. The parliamentary standing committee rejected it because any regulatory body should be devoid of Government control or else it would lose its independent regulatory mechanism. It is pertinent to note that in its exhaustive report, the standing committee took exception to the attempt by the Government of India to centralize the powers with it and reduce a Body of Experts created for a distinct purpose by a Parliamentary enactment into a Department working under the Government of India.
IMA appeals to the Prime Minister to recall the Bill and rectify these anomalies.
The Parliament has a larger role to protect the interest of the medical profession of the country. The welfare and the independence of the profession are linked to the welfare of the people.
Dr K K Aggarwal- National President, IMA
Dr Ravi Wankhedkar- National President-Elect
Dr RN Tandon - Hony Secretary General IMA
Dr R V Asokan - Chairman Action Committee

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