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Doctor MPs’ concern: How can Ayurveda & homoeopathy people practise allopathy?

Medical Commission Bill sent to standing panel, its member doctors ready with many questions

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi |
Updated: January 3, 2018 5:36:34 am
JP Nadda, Health Minister, zika virus, zika ahmedabad, Public Health Foundation of India, PHFI, india news Union Health Minister JP Nadda (Express photo by Jaipal Singh/Files)

While doctors threatened to take to the streets against the National Medical Commission Bill 2017, representatives of the fraternity inside Parliament, including some in the ruling party, too have questions about the bill. The spectre of crosspathy (someone trained in one system of medicine practising another), a licentiate exam before MBBS graduates can practice medicine, and a largely unelected regulatory structure are some of the issues they flagged.

“There are two very contentious things about the bill,” said BJP Lok Sabha MP Dr Sanjay Jaiswal, a member of the standing committee that will now examine the bill. “The first is the licentiate examination. On the one hand, the government wants more doctors on the field; on the other, even if you set a 30 percentile qualifying benchmark, that would mean 30,000 MBBS qualified doctors are taken out of the pool. First there is an entrance examination, NEET, then again another. There is no licence examination for a lawyer or an engineer. The second issue is the bridge course. People run homoeopathy and Siddha colleges from cowsheds — I concede there are some good Ayurveda colleges but there is no regulation. How can they be allowed to practice allopathy?”

The real problem, he says, is that the NMC Bill was prepared by a committee that had no representation from the medical fraternity. “The cabinet secretary, the health secretary and Arvind Panagariya together drafted the bill. What was the problem in taking inputs from, say, the director of AIIMS?” he said.

Shiv Sena MP Dr Shrikant Shinde, also on the standing committee, said he had come prepared to oppose the bill on several counts including the fact that NMC would have only five elected members and replace the Medical Council of India where all members are elected. “I also wanted to oppose it because it encourages crosspathy that is totally wrong,” Shinde said. “How can BAMS, BHMS people practise modern medicine? There will be a lot of complications. As it is, in rural areas people are practising it unofficially. The other issue is the fees fixation for 40% seats —on the one hand there is a common entrance test on the other there are differential fees. Who decides who gets what seat?”

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The bill says the fees for 40% seats in any medical college would be decided on the basis of NMC guidelines. Shinde said the penalty provision of 1.5 to 10 times the annual fee would eventually spawn corruption.

Dr Kirit Solanki, BJP MP, said: “The IMA memorandum talks about the lack of elected members in the NMC. The government took a wise decision in sending it to the standing committee. The bridge course for Ayurevda and homeopathy practitioners is an issue that needs a closer look,” he said.

BJP MP Dr Heena Gavit said the bill as an idea is good, especially given the complaints about the MCI. “Being from within the fraternity, even we know opinions about the MCI are mixed. So NMC Bill is a good idea but there are some contradictions in it,” Gavit said. “For example, the matter of the bridge course is not clear, there are no specifics about what AYUSH doctors will be taught before they practice modern medicine. There are so few elected members. States are represented only in the advisory council and not in NMC. Also instead of an exit examination, why can’t the final year paper be common for all medical colleges?”

She echoed Dr Shinde’s concerns about the fee fixation.

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