In a controversial provision, the National Medical Commission Bill 2017 envisages allowing Ayush practitioners (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) to practise modern (allopathic) medicine after clearing a bridge course. The Bill, introduced in Lok Sabha on Friday, by Union Health Minister J P Nadda, seeks to overhaul the structure of medical education, introduce a medical exit examination and bring an end to the Medical Council of India.
It envisages a “joint sitting” of the (National Medical) Commission, the Central Council of Homoeopathy and the Central Council of Indian Medicine at least once a year “to enhance the interface between homoeopathy, Indian Systems of Medicine and modern systems of medicine”. These three will decide “approving specific bridge course that may be introduced for the practitioners of homoeopathy and of Indian Systems of Medicine to enable them to prescribe such modern medicines at such level as may be prescribed”.
The meeting will also finalise, the Bill says, by an affirmative vote of all members present and voting, approvals for “specific educational modules or programmes that may be introduced in the undergraduate course and the postgraduate course across medical systems and to develop bridges across various systems of medicine and promote medical pluralism”.
Calling for reform of the Medical Council of India, the Bill says that a 25-member commission selected by a search committee headed by the Union Cabinet Secretary will replace the elected MCI. A medical licentiate (exit) examination will be instituted within three years of its passage by Parliament. A medical advisory council that will include one member representing each state and union territory (vice-chancellors in both cases); chairman, University Grants Commission, and director of the National Accreditation and Assessment Council will advise and make recommendations to the NMC.
Four boards dealing with undergraduate, postgraduate medical education, medical assessment and rating and ethics and registration will regulate the sector. Replacing the MCI with a new regulatory structure was necessitated by allegations of corruption dogging the council ever since the much publicised arrest of its then chief Ketan Desai in 2010. In a chapter on corruption in MCI, the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Health and Family Welfare writes: “…the President, MCI during evidence before the Committee admitted that corruption was there when there was sanctioning of medical colleges, or increasing or decreasing seats. The Committee has also been informed that the private medical colleges arrange ghost faculty and patients during inspections by MCI and no action is taken for the irregularity. The Committee has also been given to understand that MCI is proactive in taking action on flimsy grounds against Government Medical Colleges which are 100% better.”