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President’s assent for IMC Ordinance for tertiary healthcare even in remote areas


New Delhi, Sep 26: President of India Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018. This is an attempt to enable holistic health care for poor and vulnerable citizens by the government.

Ram Nath Kovind

The government wants to create over 1.50 lakh health and wellness centres so that primary health care including prevention and health promotion becomes universal, accessible and equitable by 2022 with Ayushman Bharat Yojna already in place.

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But the country still have the constraint on account of inadequate number of qualified health care professionals due to slow pace of commensurate reforms in Medical Education. For years poor people have to travel from far of places to Delhi for getting tertiary care facility at AIIMS. Now the government plans to expand quality tertiary health care facilities in all parts of the country. With announcement of 14 new AIIMS over the past 4 years, the total number of AIIMS will go up to 22. Further, super specialty Blocks are being set up in 54 medical colleges at a cost of around Rs 9,000 crore.

To make the availability of tertiary healthcare and expand access to medical education in underserved areas, the Centre is setting up a network of medical colleges all over the country. Total 82 new medical colleges costing Rs 16,000 crore are being set up under a centrally sponsored scheme to ensure that there is at least one college for every three parliamentary constituencies.

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The ambitious programmes and policies of health care could not be made a reality without ensuring availability of required number of qualified doctors and other health care professionals. Realizing this need, the government has attempted to bring about reforms in medical education. As per sources, in a circumstances where the SC mandated Oversight Committee is unable to function due to non-cooperation of MCI and the NMC Bill is pending in Parliament and its passage is likely to take some time, certain immediate steps are required to be taken. Accordingly, an ordinance to supersede the MCI has been promulgated and the powers of the council have been vested in a Board of Governors (BoG). The BoG will continue to perform till a Council is constituted as per the provision of the Act in one year time. It may be recalled that a Board of Governors was also appointed in 2010.

Actually based on the 92nd Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare and recommendations of a Group of Experts under late Professor Ranjit Roy Chaudhary in March, 2016, the government introduced the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017 in Lok Sabha on December 29, 2017. The Bill provides for simplification of procedures and is expected to spur rapid growth in the number of UG and PG seats in the country besides enhancing the governance and quality of medical education. The NMC Bill provides for distribution of functions among four autonomous boards whose members would be persons of proven ability selected through a transparent process.

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It was taken up for consideration on January 2, 2018 and was referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare which presented its 109th Report on the Bill to the House on March 20, 2018. The ministry after examining the recommendations obtained approval of the Cabinet on March 28, 2018 for moving official amendments. Thereafter, the Bill is pending in the Lok Sabha.

The Supreme Court in its judgment on May 2, 2016 issued directions to the Center to constitute an Oversight Committee with the authority to oversee all statutory functions of MCI till a new legislation comes in.

Recently launched Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojna (PM-JAY) enables financial protection to over 50 crore people or 10.74 crore families that is 40 per cent population of the country by providing them an annual benefit of Rs 5 lakh per family. The government sources said that over 2,300 HWCs are already operational across the country and 15,000 will be operational by the end of this year. The government launched National Health Policy in 2017, fifteen years after the last policy in 2002 to improve health status of people of the country through concerted policy action in all sectors and expand preventive, promotive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative services.

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