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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS–Does the Medical Commission Bill encourage quackery?

The Editorial covers GS paper2 [Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.]

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Introduction

  • The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 was introduced by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan in Lok Sabha on July 22, 2019.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the National Medical Commission Bill, 2019.

What does the bill provide?

The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and provide for a medical education system which ensures:

  • availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals
  • adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals
  • periodic assessment of medical institutions
  • An effective grievance redressal mechanism.

What are the key features of the bill?

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  • The Bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC). 
  • The NMC will subsume the MCI and will regulate medical education and practice in India.
  • Framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals.
  • Assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure.
  • Under the Bill, the central government will constitute a Medical Advisory Council. 
  • The Council will be the primary platform through which the states/union territories can put forth their views and concerns before the NMC. 
  • The Bill sets up autonomous boards under the supervision of the NMC.  
  • Each autonomous board will consist of a President and four members, appointed by the central government.
  • Under the Bill, the NMC may grant a limited license to certain mid-level practitioners connected with the modern medical profession to practice medicine.
  • There will be a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to under-graduate and post-graduate super-speciality medical education in all medical institutions regulated under the Bill.
  • The Bill proposes a common final year undergraduate examination called the National Exit Test for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice.

What is the issue against the bill?

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  • The standing committee had opposed the National Exit Test (NEXT).
  • The Bill has no scope for improvement if a student fails. Earlier, there existed an improvement exam for those who failed the final-year test.
  • The Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) and the United-RDA (Resident Doctors Association) in a joint statement said, ‘’The provisions of the said bill are nothing short of draconian and promote gross incompetence and mockery of the professionals currently working day and night’’.

How does it encourage by Unbridled fees?

  • Another controversial clause of the Bill is regulation of fee of more than 35,000 seats in private medical colleges. 
  • The Bill says the proposed NMC can frame guidelines on fees determination of only 50 per cent of seats in private medical colleges. 
  • The recommendation of the committee was however, that it must be regulated for at least 50 per cent of the seats.

How does it encourage Quack doctors?

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  • According to the Bill, the Community Health Provider may prescribe specified medicine independently, only in primary and preventive healthcare, but in cases other than primary and preventive healthcare, he may prescribe medicine only under the supervision of medical practitioners registered under sub-section (1) of section 32. 
  • The term Community Health Provider has been vaguely defined to allow anyone connected with modern medicine to get registered in NMC and be licensed to practice modern medicine. 
  • This means persons without medical background are becoming eligible to practice modern medicine and prescribe independently. This law legalizes quackery. 
  • This provision and the other controversial provisions can never be accepted by the medical fraternity of the country.

Conclusion

  • Perceptions of patients are changing, preferences are changing, people are not willing to settle even for a nurse. 
  • In a State like Kerala, they’re not willing to look at even MBBS doctors, they only want specialists. 
  • So, these partially trained people may not get preference and may fall by the wayside. 
  • A continuous redesign, actually having a strong evaluation framework, a strong regulatory governance framework is extremely important. 
  • However, if the experiment fails, it should be abandoned before the number of these providers is too high.

Source: The Hindu.