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12-Hour Medical Bandh Across India Tomorrow to Protest Against NMC Bill

The Indian Medical Association said the National Medical Commission bill would promote quackery as it proposes allowing practitioners of alternative medicines, such as homoeopathy and ayurveda, practise allopathy after completing a "bridge course".

News18.com

Updated:January 1, 2018, 8:08 PM IST
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12-Hour Medical Bandh Across India Tomorrow to Protest Against NMC Bill
Picture for Representation. (Photo: AFP)
New Delhi: Healthcare services at many private hospitals in the country are likely to be hit on Tuesday as the Indian Medical Association has called for suspending routine services for 12 hours to protest a Bill seeking to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new body and also proposes allowing practitioners of alternative medicines practise allopathy after completing a "bridge course".

Services at outpatient departments (OPDs) of many private hospitals may be hit by the protest, but emergency and critical services will remain open. Union Health Minister J P Nadda had a meeting with the members of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) where the latter conveyed their concerns over the Bill.

A senior health ministry official, however, said the Bill is slated to come up for discussion in Parliament on Tuesday and the House will decide over it. "We heard them out, but nothing can be done now as the Bill has been tabled in Parliament. A discussion over it will be held tomorrow and the House will decide," he said.

The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, which was tabled in Parliament on Friday, seeks to replace the MCI and also proposes allowing practitioners of alternative medicines, such as homoeopathy and ayurveda, practise allopathy after completing a "bridge course".

The IMA, which has been strongly opposing the NMC bill saying it will "cripple" the functioning of medical professionals by making them completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators, has declared tomorrow a "Black Day".

"The NMC Bill in the present form is not acceptable. This Bill is anti-poor, anti-people, non-representative, undemocratic and anti-federal in character. The IMA headquarter hereby declares closure of all routine services for 12 hours from 6 AM to 6 PM tomorrow across the country," newly-appointed IMA national president Dr Ravi Wankhedkar said.

He said, "We were left with no option but to take the issues to our patients and the people. We have received tremendous response and all the IMA members will follow our call."

The IMA has 2.77 lakh doctors as its members.

The Delhi Medical Association (DMA) is supporting the IMAs protest and has called upon all private and corporate hospitals in the national capital to keep their OPD services closed.

Dr K K Aggarwal, the former president of the IMA, said they have already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union health minister urging them to redraft the Bill and rectify some of its provisions to protect the interest of medical practitioners.

He claimed that the provision in the Bill which allows AYUSH graduates to practise modern medicine after completing a bridge course will promote quackery.

The NMC bill proposes replacing the Medical Council of India with a new body and "possibly" Section 15 of the IMC Act, which says that the basic qualification to practise modern medicine is MBBS, Dr Aggarwal said.

"It (the bill) takes away the right of every doctor in India to elect their medical council," he said. "The MCI is a representative body of medical professionals in India. Any registered medical practitioner in the country can contest the election and every qualified doctor can vote.

"Abolishing a democratic institution and replacing it with a body in which a majority is nominated by the government, is certainly a retrograde step," Dr Aggarwal said.

He further said the Bill, in its current form, allows private medical colleges to charge at will, nullifying whatever solace the NEET brought.

Dr Wankhedkar said, "The Bill purported to eradicate corruption is designed to open the floodgates of corruption. A Bill to regulate the medical education and medical practice without the concurrence of the medical profession will be a disaster."

Clause 49 of the Bill calls for a joint sitting of the National Medical Commission, the Central Council of Homoeopathy and the Central Council of Indian Medicine at least once a year "to enhance the interface between homoeopathy, Indian Systems of Medicine and modern systems of medicine".

The Bill proposes constitution of four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting undergraduate and postgraduate education, assessment and rating of medical institutions and registration of practitioners under the National Medical Commission.

The commission will have a government-nominated chairman and members, and the board members will be selected by a search committee under the Cabinet Secretary, it says.

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