2 associations flay National Medical Commission bill

Two separate association of doctors have opposed the proposed National Medical Commission bill 2017 that seeks to replace the scam-tainted Medical Council of India for regulating the cash-rich medical education sector.

The opposition is because of the "technocratic and bureaucratic" nature of the NMC, which the doctors argued, was no solution to the ailment of having an outdated MCI. Also, the federal character of the MCI is not found in the NMC.

All the state governments have representation in MCI. But in the new structure, only five states in the rotation will have representation in the NMC as a result of which it will take two decades for a state to reenter the NMC, said K K Aggarwal, national president of Indian Medical Association (IMA) - India's largest association of doctors.

The existing system of state medical councils electing doctors as the members of the MCI attracted criticism on two points - because of the flawed nature of the election process and on the broader principle how the doctors, who are to be regulated, can decide who the regulators would be.

"The NMC violates the basic requirement of modern governance structure that a regulatory body must be multi-stakeholder, transparent, and accountable," said Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) - a body of doctors promoting ethical healthcare.

"In the existing MCI, the government appointed members are more than members elected by doctors. Yet corruption and other problems kept on escalating. Making all members as government appointees is certainly not the way to eliminate corruption," said Arun Mitra, a core committee member of the ADEH.

The IMA on Wednesday inserted advertisement in newspapers opposing the bill that is likely to be introduced in the Parliament in the ongoing session.

"The primary cause of substandard medical education is - in many private colleges admission is based primarily on the ability to pay exorbitant fees and not on merit and students can hardly get to see any patients since 'free' hospitals supposed to be attached to these colleges are more of a virtual reality," said Mitra.

Instead of reversing this downhill course, this bill provides for capping of medical college fees only up to 40% of the seats, which would further increase the already high cost of medical education and the malpractices, he added.

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