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New medical education regulator comes into effect from today

alyan Ray
Last Updated : 25 September 2020, 14:52 IST
Last Updated : 25 September 2020, 14:52 IST
Last Updated : 25 September 2020, 14:52 IST
Last Updated : 25 September 2020, 14:52 IST

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In a long-awaited reform, India's new medical education regulator, National Medical Commission came into effect from Friday replacing the 87-year-old corruption-riddled Medical Council of India.

Though the MCI was suspended for the last ten years with a Board of Governors running the show, the Union Health Ministry has now issued four notifications abolishing the council and setting up the commission as well as four boards that would regulate the medical education sector and keep an eye on the doctors.

After two failed attempts, the Parliament last year passed the National Medical Commission law culminating a process that began nearly 15 years ago.

The 33-member commission would be headed by Suresh Chandra Sharma, a retired professor and head of the department (ENT) at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

The 33-member commission has 19 doctors representing the state governments and state medical councils besides 9 ex-officio members, three independent experts, and the member secretary.

"There was a need for revamp in MCI was given—there were too many allegations of corruption, inefficiency, and bureaucracy impeding quality medical education in the country. One of NMC’s premises is that it will help us move away from the MCI ‘inspector-raj’,” Anant Bhan, a researcher of bioethics and health policy and past president of the International Association of Bioethics told DH

However, he cautioned that it remained to be seen how the mechanisms of governance and regulation of medical education will be operationalised and implemented under the NMC.

As per the law, the NMC would function through four autonomous boards to regulate (1) undergraduate medical education (2) postgraduate medical education (3) medical assessment and rating, and (4) ethics and medical registration. The composition of these boards has also been announced.

Describing the change as historic, the ministry in a statement said, "The basic change that has happened is that the regulator is now 'selected' on merits, as opposed to an 'elected' regulator. Men and women with impeccable integrity, professionalism, experience, and stature have been now placed at the helm to steer the medical education reforms further."

Some of the tasks cut out for the NMC is to reduce the cost of medical education and creating a middle-level public health cadre to take care of the unmet public health needs in the countryside and small towns. The commission is likely to face stiff opposition on both fronts.

“The continuing introduction of mid-level health providers such as community health officers, which will now be further enabled by the NMC, may continue to cause consternation with IMA and other organizations which see it as being inimical to doctors,” Bhan noted.

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Published 25 September 2020, 14:52 IST

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