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All India Radio (AIR) : National Medical Council Bill

  • IASbaba
  • April 23, 2018
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All India Radio
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National Medical Council Bill

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TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

In News: Union Cabinet approved amendments to the National Medical Council Bill.

National Medical Commission Bill, 2017

The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and aims to reform the medical education sector, which has been under scrutiny for corruption and unethical practices. It provide for a medical education system which ensures:

  • Availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals
  • Adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals
  • Periodic assessment of medical institutions
  • An effective grievance redressal mechanism

Two controversial proposals in the previous draft:

  • National Exit Test: Proposal to test the knowledge the MBBS students for giving them license to practice. Many say that doctors are negligent, and the idea was to ensure the quality and that it has been tested. It has been dropped as there is a requirement of strengthening our examination system and a uniform strong system across the country.
  • A bridge course to enable AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy) practitioners of alternative medicines to practice and dispense modern medicines: It cannot take care of the interlinking, drug interactions and replace the MBBS course.

Some drawbacks:

Failure to move to just one scientific system of medicine in India, combining all that is proven from different streams: The failure of successive governments to promote scientific medicine and integrate the best of indigenous systems into one unified system has led to unhealthy competition among the various streams of medicine in India. Modern medicine is wrongly labelled “Western” or “Allopathy”.

Replacing Medical Council of India & Election of the members of the new body called National Medical Commission: It will have elected members from the medical fraternity. The NMC will ‘cripple’ the functioning of the medical profession by making it completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators. The election process should be reformed, not replaced. Having an almost entirely nominated commission, as the present Bill provides, is unhealthy. It will lead to a collection of ‘yes men and women’ whose chief qualification will be proximity to the existing government.

Flaw in the proposed Medical Commission is the lack of clarity on its function: The Commission should only be expected to monitor and regulate the training of health-care personnel and maintain professional standards. It should not be laying down policies which require inputs from multiple agencies.

The Way Forward

The regulator should be designed with certain internal safeguards and processes – to be a fair, independent and impartial regulator. The proposed NMC violates this basic principle: it is dominated by doctors, and will continue to act as judges in their own cause.

A doctor-dominated MCI has functioned in an opaque and unaccountable manner. This has also eroded public confidence in the profession. In light of India’s experience with MCI, the composition of NMC should not be dominated by doctors. A board with parity between professional and non-professional members (maybe even a slight majority of non-professionals) is a superior institutional design.

Connecting the dots:

  1. Discuss the problems in the healthcare sector segment of India. Also highlight how National Medical Commission is a step in right direction, helping sort various issues.

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