Controversial National Medical Commission Bill To Be Tabled in Lok Sabha Today
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New Delhi: The controversial National Medical Commission Bill will be tabled by the government in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The bill seeks to allow practitioners of Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Yoga and other alternative medicines to enter the field of modern medicine after completing a “bridge course”.

The bridge course will be decided upon at a meeting between the proposed National Medical Commission, which will replace the Medical Council of India, the Central Council of Homoeopathy and the Central Council of Indian Medicine.

The draft bill was introduced by Union Health Minister JP Nadda in Lok Sabha on Thursday to replace and subsume the Medical Council of India (MCI). The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on December 18, is to set up a new and transparent system of regulating healthcare.

The first draft of the Bill was brought about by the NITI Aayog and drew from the 92nd Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health. The Committee had come down strongly on the MCI was allegations of “rampant corruption”, for being “unresponsive” to health system needs, and for not being able to take forward any serious reforms in the medical education system. It delved into the MCI’s chequered past, the arrest of its former president Dr Ketan Desai on charges of corruption, and it’s temporary suspension.

The NMC is supposed to redress these faults in the system by not letting doctors elect members from their own community to regulate them, a move that has angered the Indian Medical Association, India’s largest voluntary organisation of doctors. Instead, healthcare will now be regulated by people appointed by the Centre and the states, from the ministries of health, of human resource development, and the Department of Pharmaceuticals, experts from health, science, economics, etc.

The Bill will set up the eponymous National Medical Commission to regulate and develop medical education and the profession, and the Medical Advisory Council (MAC), a purely advisory body to aid the NMC and serve as the primary platform for states to put their views forward to the Commission. The Council will have members nominated from every state, Union Territory and include members of the NMC as ex-officio members.

The Chairman of the NMC will also be the ex-officio Chairman of the Council, making the leadership the same. This has raised some eyebrows, as the Brookings India senior fellow Shamika Ravi wrote in a column for LiveMint: “Instead of creating different boards to watch and observe each other, the NMC would instead create a pair of Siamese twins—two different heads, but for the most part, a single potentially corrupt body.”

The NMC will consist of four autonomous boards to look at different aspects of medical education, undergraduate, postgraduate, medical assessment and rating, and medical registration.

Doctors will now have to pass an exit examination on graduating from their MBBS courses, to get a licence to practice. The same exam will be used as the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), for post-graduate courses.