Doctors Say National Medical Commission Bill Will ‘Legitimise Quackery’, Launch Protest as Lok Sabha Takes Up Bill
Doctors and medical students from more than seven states joined the protest by Indian Medical Association (IMA), the biggest association of doctors in the country, to demand amendments to the National Medical Commission Bill 2019, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
While introducing his first bill, health minister Harsh Vardhan said that all concerns of the IMA have been adequately addressed. The doctors, however, disagree. They gathered outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi and moved to Nirman Bhawan to demand that health ministry scrap the Bill over its controversial provisions.
The IMA wants the clause of giving license to practice modern medicine to non-qualified persons removed, besides keeping the exit exams for MBBS students separate from the course’s final exam. The body also wants the commission to be an elected body of doctors rather than a nominated body, as currently proposed in the Bill.
“Clearing medical exams are very tough. We spend years studying medicine and now you want to bring people with limited understanding of medicine as doctors,” said Dr Rita Gupta, a private practitioner from Jind, Haryana. Supporting her, other doctors at the spot echoed that the move will only legitimise quackery.
The Bill states that the new formed commission can create mid-level practitioners who should be linked to modern medicine. They will have the authority to prescribe allopathic medicines only for primary and preventive care.
In his Lok Sabha speech, Vardhan clarified that a separate registry will be formed for the allied health workers and this move will create a large pool of adequately qualified allopathic allied health workers who can be community health providers for national disease control programmes.
Vardhan, who himself has been associated with the Delhi Medical Association and the Indian Medical Association in his 45 years of practice, while introducing the bill said that he is well aware of the difficulties people face in accessing healthcare at the primary and sub-centre level.
But the IMA representatives say they will not relent. “We want the health ministry to withdraw the Bill. If the Bill is passed in its current form, then we will intensify our protests,” said Rajan Sharma, National President Elect, IMA.
As the crowd swelled up outside Nirman Bhawan, the police took some of the doctors under preventive detention.
Vardhan had earlier tweeted that out of the 56 recommendations of the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health which reviewed the earlier version of NMC bill, 30 have been fully accepted, seven partially accepted and nine rejected.