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Countrywide doctors, students protest against NMC bill

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, July 29: Doctors and medical students across the country have been opposing The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2019. On Monday, several doctors held protests outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi.

Countrywide doctors, students protest against NMC bill

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), the largest body of doctors and students in the country with around three lakh members, has been opposing the NMC Bill that seeks to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI), saying it is "anti-poor and anti-students" and the current version has only undergone cosmetic changes as the core concerns raised by the medical fraternity still remain unaddressed.

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"The NMC is the worst bill ever introduced in the medical education system and unfortunately a health minister, who is also a doctor, is adamant in destroying his own education system. We will not accept this atrocity at any cost. The proposed bill is anti-people, anti-poor, anti-students, anti-democratic and draconian in nature. Medical students being the part of this pious education system have also joined hands to protect our education system and uproot this NMC bill," National President of IMA, Dr. Santanu Sen, said.

The protestors were detained from near Nirman Bhawan and later let off.

Since its introduction in Parliament, the medical fraternity has voiced protest against the Bill with thousands of its copies being burnt at various organisations across the nation.

National President Elect, IMA, Dr. Rajan Sharma, said addition of Section 32 in the bill will only legalise quackery by empowering the community health providers to practice medicine, thereby endangering the lives of people.

"There has never been a blatant pro-rich bias of this intensity. The NMC bill is a pro-private management bill paving the way for widespread corruption," Sharma said.

The IMA is also opposing other provisions in the bill, including the decision to couple NEXT and NEET and regulation of fees by the NMC for 50 per cent seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities.

The other clause include provision to fix fee of private medical colleges, capped to 50 per cent of the seats, has been further diluted to framing guidelines only, IMA junior doctor's network vice-president Dr. Harjit Bhatti said.

Now, 100% of the private medical seats will be deregulated regarding the fee subject to non-binding guidelines. Medical education in the country will become expensive placing the lower socio-economic groups in great disadvantage, Dr. R.V. Asokan, Secretary General of IMA, said.

"The proposed Bill by virtue of its inclusions which are draconian in character and are totally aimed at centralszing the entire authority in the hands of the government, is not in public interest as well as is prejudicial to the medical education and profession as a whole," he added.

The NMC bill proposes a common final year MBBS examination, to be known as National Exit Test (NEXT), for admission to post-graduate medical courses and for obtaining license to practice medicine.

It would also act as a screening test for foreign medical graduates, official sources said.

Besides, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), common counselling and the NEXT will be applicable to institutes of national importance like AIIMS in order to achieve a common standard in medical education sector in the country.

The Bill provides for setting up of a National Medical Commission (NMC) in place of the MCI for development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions.

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Under section 32 of the NMC Act 2019, which talks about the role of the community health provider, it states: "The commission may grant limited license to practice medicine at mid-level as a community health provider to such person connected with modern scientific medical profession who qualify such criteria as specified by the regulations: provided that the limited license to be granted under this sub-section shall not exceed more than one-third of the total number of licensed medical practitioners registered under sub-section (1) of section 31."

Section 31 of the Act pertains to maintaining a national register of all the recognised medical practitioners by the Ethics and Medical Registration Board.

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