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Rajya Sabha Passes NMC Bill; Doctors, Students Intensify Protest against It

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Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill with a crucial amendment to increase representation of States in the new body, as demanded by the Opposition. This Bill was passed by a voice vote. The Lok Sabha had earlier passed the proposed law on July 29. The National Medical Commission (NMC) will replace the Medical Council of India (MCI). Extensive reforms to medical education amid a storm of protest by the medical fraternity because a person without medical background is becoming eligible to practice modern medicine and prescribe independently. This law legalizes dishonesty. This provision and the other controversial provisions cannot be accepted by the medical fraternity of the country.

What is NMC BILL?

India's medical fraternity claims that the bill will encourage dishonesty. It came from the fact that although the bill does not openly talk about the bridge course for Ayush doctors, it does stress on enhancing the interface between systems of medicine such as Central Council of Homoeopathy and Central Council of Indian Medicine.  The bill defines Community Health Providers (CHPs) as persons granted a licence to practice medicine at mid level. It is also not clear that what kind of professionals could be certified as CHPs.

The bill says that these Community Health Providers would be allowed to prescribe specified medicines independently in primary healthcare, but only under the supervision of medical practitioners at higher levels.

The bill aims to bring uniformity in medical education standards in India. It pursues a common final year MBBS exam, to be called National Exit Test (NEXT), for admission to PG courses and also for obtaining practice licence. Its motive is that the final year MBBS exam be treated as an entrance test for PG and a screening test for students who graduate in medicine from foreign medical colleges. Medical students studying in Foreign, who have been subjected to a screening test no Indian medical graduate had to clear had long been demanding something on the lines of the NEXT.

The centre has clarified under the bill that States can only advice the NMC but the council can choose not to accept. However, no medical college will be set up without the permission of state government.the centre has clarified.  

Earlier MCI didn't have the power to regulate fees but NMC have power to determine fees in 50% private medical college seats. According to critics, it would be similar to allowing 100% of private college seats to be unregulated.  Most of the states are currently having committees that fix the fees.

 

Clarifying the doubts on issuance of limited licenses to Community Health providers to practice medicine, Mr. Vardhan said t that the concept had already been implemented in many countries, including developed nations. Strict measures had been introduced to punish dishonesty. He also rrecognized the reforms introduced by Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, during his tenure as the Health Minister.



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