Better late

National Medical Commission Bill does not address crucial concerns. Standing Committee must correct its deficiencies

By: Editorials | Published: January 4, 2018 12:10 am
MCI, NMC bill, doctors in india, indian hospitals, The NMC Bill seeks to dissolve the Medical Council of India (MCI), the regulator of the medical profession in India, which has been rocked by corruption scandals over the past seven years.

The government’s decision to refer the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill to a Standing Committee of Parliament is welcome. The Indian Medical Association had called a 12-hour long strike against the legislation that seeks to regulate medical education and practice in the country. The strike was called off after the government announced its decision to refer the Bill to the Standing Committee. The positives of going slow on the legislation, however, extend beyond assuaging the anxieties of the medical community. The NMC Bill seeks to dissolve the Medical Council of India (MCI), the regulator of the medical profession in India, which has been rocked by corruption scandals over the past seven years. But it does not adequately answer questions that have been asked since 2010 when the MCI’s secretary Ketan Desai was arrested on the charge of accepting a bribe in return for recognising a private college — he was later released and reinstated. The Bill stops short of addressing the need for a transparent medical regulatory agency and does not offer a viable roadmap for addressing the shortage of physicians in the country.

The Bill seeks to replace the MCI with a National Medical Commission, a move that virtually sounds the death knell for the medical community’s privilege of self-regulation. While the MCI members are elected from within the medical community, the 25 members of the proposed agency will be appointed by the government. Some of these members will be representatives of the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Directorate General of Health Services. But if past experience is anything to go by, the government arrogating to itself the task of constituting a body of professionals most often tantamounts to the party in office rewarding its loyalists. The Standing Committee must suggest ways to ensure that the new regulatory body stands up to the demands of professional integrity and probity.

Referring the Bill to the parliamentary committee is salutary in another respect. Many of its provisions — including that of dissolving the MCI — owe to a report which the committee had itself submitted in March 2016. That report was an indictment of the medical regulator’s failure to mend the country’s abysmal doctor to population ratio of 1:1,674. The Bill tries to address this shortfall by allowing practitioners of ayurvedic and homoeopathic systems of medicine the licence to prescribe allopathic drugs after they have passed a “bridge course”. Allopathy, ayurveda and homoeopathy operate on vastly different principles. The fear that mixing up these systems could imperil healthcare is not unfounded. The Standing Committee must address these concerns.

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  1. Ramana Nutanapati
    Jan 4, 2018 at 8:07 pm
    7)Rural people are being treated by quacks with Inj diclofenac and inj betamethasone and inj dexamethasone and irrational course of antibitoics, unnecessary IV fluids and causing lots of hardships to poor people. Thousands of MBBS doctors are jobless in ANdhra Pradesh. Please create one minipHC with consultation room, treatment room, pharmacy, waiting hall and toilets in every village panchayats or for every 5000 rural population with OP services only. It protects villagers from quacks and provides jobs to MBBS doctors, nurses, pharmacists. Every village had Anganwadi centre, primary school, but not Primary health centre. convert all subcentres into Primary Health Centres.
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    1. Ramana Nutanapati
      Jan 4, 2018 at 8:07 pm
      Please research and write an article :Status of Primary Health care and Horrible state of MBBS doctors in Andhra Pradesh: Meet APJUDA (junior doctors association) president in medical colleges. Health secretary, Andhra Pradesh for information. 1) In Andhra Pradesh, what is the total number of jobs/posts for MBBS and Postgraduate allopathic doctors across any Allopathic Health facility at present 2)What is vacancy status of Allopathic doctor posts in Andhra Pradesh as on 01.01.2018 3)In the last 2 years, 5000 MBBS doctors have come out of Medical Colleges from Andhra Pradesh. approx., 1500 have joined Postgraduation. What is the fate of other MBBS doctors 4)How many MBBS doctor and Specialist Jobs will you create in next 10 years for Andhra Pradesh 5)In next 10 years around 35,000 MBBS doctors are going to come out from Medical Colleges in Andhra Pradesh. How are they going to survive without jobs
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      1. Ramana Nutanapati
        Jan 4, 2018 at 8:06 pm
        Please don't generalise. Each state is in different. Look at figures for Andhra Pradesh. No. registered Allopathic doctors (Andhra Pradesh and telangana) (search on Medical Council of India ) Andhra Pradesh Medical Council: 73,870 till end of 2015 Telangana State Medical Council: 2355 till end of 2016 Hyderabad Medical Council (Before merger with AP Medical Council) : 12,267 Total: 73,870 2355 12,267 88,492 If 15,000 have left practice, went to foreign countries etc , we still have 73,492. Add 5000 added to AP medical council in 2016 and 2017 and 2500 in 2017 to Telangana state Medical council: 81,000 approx For population of 5.2 cr AP 3.7 cr Telangana 8.7 cr 1 dr for every 1084 population. In Next 2 years, it will be more than 1 doctor per thousand population.
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