The medical fraternity across the country has been fiercely opposing the National Medical Commission (NMC) bill, which will be tabled in Parliament in this monsoon session. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has expressed strong opposition to the bill stating that it is anti-people and anti-medical profession.
Members of the IMA also declared a one-day symbolic strike across the country on Saturday, July 28, to showcase their strength and what the Central government may invite by passing the NMC bill in Parliament. However, the question is why is the fraternity opposing the NMC bill 2017 and how it will affect the medical profession.
The proposed NMC bill proposes replacing the existing Medical Council of India (MCI), which is the medical education regulatory body, with a new body. One of the major contentious areas in the bill is the provision to allow private medical colleges to charge fees as per their wish for 60 per cent seats with the freedom to increase the number of undergraduate and post-graduate seats without much restriction.
After the IMA opposed the bill last year, the clause of ‘Exit Exam’ after MBBS and bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to practice modern medicine were removed.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr YS Deshpande, President of IMA Maharashtra, underlined that the bill is anti-poor. “Upon the advent of the NMC Bill 2017, private medical colleges in states like Uttarakhand and Maharashtra raised their fees to Rs 25 to 30 lakh per year for MBBS. The bill will further make medical education expensive and poor students will not be able to take up medical education,” said Deshpande.
He further added that the replacement of MCI with another body does not have state representation.
“Only five states will be allowed to be represented in this new body. Every state has different needs and so every representation is important. However, with the new body, only five states will be represented, which will harm the interest of other states,” said Deshpande.
Not just the IMA, but other medical organisations across the country are also opposing the bill. The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) has also proposed changes in the bill. In a petition filed by the ADEH in January 2018 to the parliamentary committee states, ‘Bill opens the door for further privatisation of medical education’.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Arun Gadre from ADEH said that the bill has provision for only 5 out of 25 members of the commission getting elected from the medical community.
“This structure of the council is a serious issue and implies moving towards total technocratic and bureaucratic control. Ground level representation of the doctors is going to be very marginal. The assumption that corruption will be removed if the commission is largely composed of nominated members is unfounded. Due representation should be given to the doctors from all over the country,” said Gadre.
With medical education becoming more and more expensive for the students, the government should not take a step where it becomes a distant dream for students coming from an economically weaker section of society. Moreover, health also being a state subject, due rights should be given to the state so that relevant changes can be made according to different needs.