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Contentious NMC Bill passed by Rajya Sabha; What exactly are the doctors opposing

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New Delhi, Aug 01: The Rajya Sabha today passed the National Medical Commission Bill, 2019. The doctors across the country are up in arms against the National Medical Commission Bill (NMC) 2019 which was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 29. The bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday amid widespread protests by the medical fraternity.

The bill will, however, go back to the Lok Sabha again as two amendmends need to be approved by the house.

The Bill, introduced by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act 1956.

Among other things, there are three proposals in the NMC Bill which are being vehementaly opposed.

A file photo

Community health providers (CHP) clause:

The NMC Bill proposes to allow non-medical persons or Community Health Providers to practise modern medicine. As of now, Community Health Providers, who are not MBBS, provide basic health care facilities like first-aid, looking after patients till doctors arrive. The are not authorised to prescribe modern medicine. According to the Bill, the Commission may grant limited licence to practice medicine to Community Health Provider. This falls under Section 32 of the NMC Bill which states that Community Health Provider may prescribe specified medicine independently in primary and preventive healthcare, but in cases other than primary and preventive healthcare, he may prescribe medicine only under the supervision of medical practitioners.

Doctors are opposed to this and an IMA official statement said "This law legalises quackery."

NMC to replace MCI:

The NMC bill proposes to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new body called the National Medical Commission. MCI was hit by a huge corruption scandal after which there have been demands to remedy it. The Bill proposes to setup a 25 member NMC which would set standards of medical education, regulated admission to medical colleges and oversaw registration of doctors.

[Explained: What is National Medical Commission Bill 2019 and why are doctors opposing it?]

As per the Bill, of 25 members proposed for the NMC, only five would be elected which means the non-elected members would be either government officials or those nominated by the government.

Doctors argue that a body of 25 members of which 20 will be nominated by the government is undemocratic. They say it is like taking away the autonomy and government trying to exercise more control over the functioning of medical education and practice.

National Exit Test (NEXT):

The NMC bill proposes an exam called the National Exit Test (NEXT) which would be a common final-year MBBS exam. This exam needs to be cleared before an individual starts practising medicine and for seeking admission to post-graduate medical courses and for enrolment in the State Register or the National Register. It will also be a screening test for foreign medical graduates.

NEXT, in its present format, has been outrightly rejected by the Medical student fraternity.

"Merit should be the determining factor in securing a PG seat and the current NEET-PG should not be scrapped," reports quoted the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Resident Doctors Association (RDA) the Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) and the United-RDA joint statement as saying.

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