Alternate medicine to get new powers in bill

Alternate medicine to get new powers in bill
The National Medical Commission bill proposes an annual interaction between allopathic doctors with ayurvedic and homoeopathic specialists in order to find out how the practitioners of the alternate systems can prescribe modern medicine.

The bill, which seeks to replace the corruption-ridden Medical Council of India with a new regulatory structure, was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

Hidden deep inside the bill, in chapter 6, clause 49, there is a potentially controversial provision that recommends a  joint sitting of the National Medical Commission with the Central Council of Homoeopathy and the Central Council of Indian Medicine at least once a year.

The purpose of the joint sitting is to "enhance the interface between homoeopathy, Indian system of medicine and modern medicine".

Among other things, the joint sitting would decide on "approving a specific bridge course that may be introduced for the practitioners of homoeopathy and Indian system of medicine to enable them to prescribe such modern medicines at such a level as may be prescribed".

In November, the Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh had decided to deploy 2,800 Ayurvedic doctors at community and primary health care centres in India's largest state, which has a shortage of doctors.

Another draft legislation from the health ministry  -  the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill of 2014  - received criticism from the doctors on one of its provisions, which allows Ayurvedic doctors, nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives to conduct abortions in a clinic.

That bill has  not progressed much since.

The National Medical Commission, 2017 Bill suggests that at the joint sitting between the three streams of healthcare, experts can approve "specific educational modules or programmes that may be introduced in the undergraduate and postgraduate courses across medical systems to develop bridges across the various systems of medicines and promote medical pluralism".

The bill has already attracted sharp criticism from two medical bodies, the  Indian Medical Association, which is India's largest body of practicing doctors, and Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare, an association of doctors promoting ethical healthcare.

"This bill is only an addition to these existing woes (to the medical community) and will exacerbate the situation for the medical fraternity and the students of medicine," IMA president K K Agarwal said in a recent statement.

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