With an intention to reform the medical sector, Niti Aayog, had proposed the replacement of Medical Council of India with a new body, National Medical Commission. A bill in this regard, The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017 was put under the public domain.
On Friday, A bill to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a national medical commission was cleared by the Union Cabinet. The Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad briefed about the same.
The MCI is a statutory body for establishing uniform and high standards of medical education in India. The bill seeks to replace the MCI with a new Commission.
The Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “We have replaced the Indian Medical Council with the National Medical Commission bill, which was pending for some time with the government to improve the standard of the healthcare and to revamp the medical ecosystem.”
Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, President Elect, Indian Medical Association said, “A regulatory body acts like a watchdog and therefore the body that will replace Medical Council of India should not be a government dominated body.”
The bill met the approval of the Group of Ministers (GoM) led by the finance minister Arun Jaitley. With the GoM’s nod, the health ministry has moved to the cabinet note on the said Bill.
Dr Ravi Wankhedkar further said that, “The new body should not be dominated by the government. As per the Bill, the National Medical Commission that will replace MCI will have only 9 elected posts and 20 nominated members. It should have more elected post and all the members should be doctors.”
He added, “The IMA has certain other reservations too especially with Section 15 and 4B of the Bill where it allows non-modern medicine person to practise modern medicine.”
Abhijeet More, conveyor of Jan Aarogy Abhiyan, an NGO working in the health sector, said, “We will have to see how many reforms suggested by the Parliamentary Standing Committee are incorporated while making the new body. The suggestions like including non-medical person in the ethics committee should have been implemented. Under the new framework, there should also be a separate regulatory framework for medical ethics and for medical education.”
Dr Wankhedkar said one of the reason why IMA is objecting the Bill is section 14(7) which will make the medical education costly. “Section 14 (7) of draft NMC bill prescribing fees in Private Medical Institutions, is contrary to Hon’ble Supreme Court order in Inamdar case, wherein Fee Fixation Committee under the Chairmanship of Retd. High Court Judge is constituted for determining fees. Further this provision prescribes determination of fees for seats not exceeding 40 % and is silent on the fees for remaining seats. The Section 14(7) is vague enough, so that one can interpret that government can prescribe fees within 40 percent and it could even be 1 percent. This will definitely make medical education very expensive and out of the reach of poor students.”
The Medical Council of India:
It was established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933, now repealed, with the main function of establishing uniform standards of higher qualifications in medicine and recognition of medical qualifications in India and abroad. The number of medical colleges had increased steadily during the years after Independence. It was felt that the provisions of Indian Medical Council Act were not adequate to meet with the challenges posed by the very fast development and the progress of medical education in the country. As a result, in 1956, the old Act was repealed and a new one was enacted. This was further modified in 1964, 1993 and 2001.
The objectives of the Council are as follows:
Maintenance of uniform standards of medical education, both undergraduate and postgraduate.
Recommendation for recognition/de-recognition of medical qualifications of medical institutions of India or foreign countries.
Permanent registration/provisional registration of doctors with recognized medical qualifications.
Reciprocity with foreign countries in the matter of mutual recognition of medical qualifications.