The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for a 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services across India on July 31 to protest against the passage of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.
The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Bill that seeks to create a National Medical Commission in place of the corruption-plagued Indian Medical Council, with Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan terming it as an “anti-vested interests” Bill that will go down as “one of the greatest reforms of this government”. The Bill “will help us move away from inspection raj”, the minister said.
The Bill seeks to usher in a new medical education system that ensures training of adequate and high-quality medical professionals, latest medical research, periodic assessment of medical institutions and an effective grievance redressal mechanism.
The Bill was passed by 260-48 votes amid a walkout by opposition Congress, DMK and Trinamool Congress. The IMA has planned public demonstrations and hunger strikes at its state and local branches. However, emergency, casualty, ICU and related services will function normally.
In Pune, Dr Sanjay Patil, chief of IMA city unit, said the Lok Sabha passed the Bill despite a series of protests. “Our struggle will continue,” Patil said, urging doctors to participate in the 24-hour-long withdrawal of services.
The NMC will have 25 members, all appointed by the Central government on recommendation of a search committee comprising the Cabinet Secretary and five experts nominated by the Centre. But a statement issued by IMA Maharashtra called the NMC Bill “anti-democratic”.
The Bill has made provisions for setting up a Medical Advisory Council, only through which the State Medical Council can approach the NMC.
Section 32 of the Bill stipulates the provision of Community Health Provider, which, according to the IMA, is “promotion of quackery”. Persons connected with “modern scientific medicine” will be given limited licence to practice, as per the Bill. This would mean that nurses, pharmacies, other pathy practitioners will get a limited licence. While Clause 51 of the Bill aims to strengthen the health delivery system in the rural areas, the state government is authorised to increase the number of doctors, which will encourage quackery, the IMA statement added.