National Medical Commission to be set up in 6 months

The controversial bill that seeks to overhaul the cash-rich medical education sector has received the Presidential assent on Thursday to become a law. File photo

The National Medical Commission to replace the scam-tainted Medical Council of India would be set up within six months, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said here on Thursday.

Each of the 33 members of the NMC (barring the ones having ex-officio positions) will have a four years term. At the beginning and end of their tenure, they will have to declare their income and assets for the sake of probity and transparency.

Once they leave, none of the members would be eligible to join any medical college for a period of two years to avoid conflict of interest issues.

The controversial bill that seeks to overhaul the cash-rich medical education sector has received the Presidential assent on Thursday to become a law.  

For the past 15 years, the Centre was trying to replace the MCI with a new agency, but two previous attempts came a cropper because of the opposition from state governments and a section of doctors.

Though the new law has a provision to form the NMC within nine months, Vardhan said the commission was likely to be in place within six months.

Contrary to the criticism of NMC being too heavily loaded in favour of the Centre, the minister said 19 out of 33 members would be from the states.

The rules would be framed in such a way so that a maximum number of states can be represented in the national body, said an official.

Vardhan said a lot of misinformation was spread on the NMC bill, but after discussions with the Health Ministry officials both Indian Medical Association and protesting resident doctors saw merits in the legislation and called off their strikes.

The NMC will regulate the medical education through four boards on (1) undergraduate education (2) postgraduate education (3) medical assessment and rating of colleges and (4) ethics and registration of doctors. The registry would be a live one.

In addition to the registry of doctors, there would also be a registry for specially trained community health workers, who would be granted a “limited licence to practice medicine at mid-level”. Only those who are already trained in other branches of modern medicine like nursing would be considered.

Officials categorically ruled out people trained in Indian systems of medicines like Ayurveda or Unani to be eligible for such community health providers. It has been left to the NMC to decide what additional training would be required for people like trained nurses to become a community health worker.

Absence of such a cadre is one of the weaknesses of Indian public health system as the country suffers from a big shortage of doctors, most of whom are concentrated in urban areas.

Comments (+)