Lok Sabha has passed the National Medical Commission Bill 2019, which has been described by the government as one of the biggest reforms that will end 'inspector raj' in the medical education sector. The Bill will now be presented in the upper house of Parliament. The NMC Bill, among other provisions, seeks to replace Medical Council of India, the regulating body for medical education in the country, with National Medical Commission.
Apart from the Medical Commission, the Bill has been in the limelight for some of its other provisions like doing away with NEET PG exam, and introduction of National Exit Test (NEXT) in the last year of MBBS which would double up as an entrance test for PG medical and dental courses.
"According to the amendments made in the fresh NMC Bill, entry into the PG programmes will be on the basis of the results of the National Exit Test (NEXT), which would be held as a common exam across the country. So the candidates would not have to appear in a separate exam after clearing the MBBS final exam for admission to PG courses," a source explained.
The NMC Bill 2019 has received mixed reviews in the medical community with some hailing it as a much needed replacement for the 'corrupt' MCI, while others protesting against it and calling it "anti-poor and anti-students".
During the discussion on the Bill in the Lok Sabha, opposition members objected to provisions like exit exam and replacing elected members with nominated members in the proposed commission. They alleged that the legislation was against the spirit of federalism.
It is like "throwing the baby with the bathwater... the cure seems to be worst than the disease," Congress' Manish Tewari said during the debate and claimed the bill would end-up legalising capitation fee.
However, Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Union Health Minister, allayed the apprehensions saying genuine concerns over the Bill have been addressed.
He said the legislation is "anti-vested interests", will help end 'inspector raj' and increase the number of seats in medical colleges.
"NMC will be lean and effective," Dr Vardhan said.
He termed the legislation as "pro-poor" saying it would bring not only government seats but also 50 per cent of all private seats within the reach of meritorious students belonging to economically weaker sections.
The bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act1956 in the wake of allegations of corruption against the 63-year-old Medical Council of India (MCI) and shortcomings in the process by which it regulated medical colleges.
The Minister of Health and Family Welfare sought to assure the members that genuine concerns of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which has been protesting against the Bill, have been addressed.
Dr Vardhan said by bringing the bill the basic intention of the government is ensure and restore utmost standard of integrity of medical education.
The draft NMC Bill introduced in 2017 had also made provisions for a bridge course for Ayush practitioners to practice modern medicine to a limited extent. After receiving much criticism, the said provision was removed from the current NMC Bill.
(With PTI Inputs)
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