• The medical fraternity is up in arms against the central government’s National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, which is to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) Act, alleging that the Bill is a big scam aimed at benefitting the lucrative private medical education industry, an overwhelming majority of which is either controlled by politicians or patronised by them.

Interacting with media persons on Saturday, senior functionaries of the Chandigarh Branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) denounced the legislation as an ill conceived and half baked exercise which has the potential to play havoc with the medical education system and infuse mediocrity in the medical profession.

Photos By : Life In Chandigarh

How do you explain the provision in the Bill that an MBBS student, who has to pass 30 odd exams during the course of his four and a half years of academic study, will now have to pass a National Licentiate Examination (exit exam), to obtain a license for practice, while the AYUSH doctors will be permitted to practice allopathic medicine by just undergoing a six month bridge course without having to sit for the exit exam, the doctors asked.

The senior IMA functionaries, Dr Bhushan Kumar, Dr Ajay Aggarwal, Dr Neeraj Kumar, Dr R.S.Bedi and Dr Neeraj Nagpal alleged this was a ploy to benefit the politicians from all hues who were running big businesses in medical education and had a vast number of AYUSH seats lying vacant in these institutions. This way the AYUSH seats are bound to get more lucrative for medical students as compared to the hard work having to be put in by MBBS students, they asserted.

The doctors further claimed that the Bill provides for doing away with the system of regular inspections of the medical education institutions and giving the managements unbridled freedom in fee structure and increasing the number of seats at will.

They maintained that the National Medical Commission under the Bill will be completely controlled by the central government with all members nominated by it. This will lead to arbitrariness in decision making and greater corruption.

Defending the institution of Medical Council of India (MCI), they said it had ensured good quality of doctors coming out of medical education institutions. This is borne out by the fact that Indian doctors are rated highly and are much sought after in advanced countries. The government used the ruse of rampant corruption in MCI to dissolve it, but this issue could have been tackled by resorting to greater checks and balances and taking strict penal action against those found guilty.

The IMA leaders claimed that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health had rejected the bill but the government was adamant to reintroduce the bill in the same shape in the current session of Parliament.

They demanded reconsideration of the Bill in its current form and a considered nationwide debate on its provisions so that the final document which emerges is above board and representative of all stakeholders. The national body of IMA has decided to hold a massive mahapanchayat in this regard in New Delhi on March 25 to compel the government for reconsideration of the Bill. As part of a national campaign, the doctors held an awareness drive at the Sukhna Lake on Sunday morning.

The doctors clarified that they had the highest respect for all forms of medicine but expressed their opposition to the ‘khichri’ which was sought to be prepared by the central government. They felt that any such move was fraught with danger and was detrimental to the interests of both allopathic for of medicine and the traditional forms of medicine.