Lok Sabha passes National Medical Commission Bill 2019

Lok Sabha has passed the National Medical Commission Bill 2019. The Bill will now be presented in the upper house of Parliament. The NMC Bill, among other provisions, seeks to replace Medical Council of India, the regulating body for medical education in the country, with National Medical Commission.

Apart from the Medical Commission, the Bill has been in the limelight for some of its other provisions like doing away with NEET PG exam, and introduction of National Exit Test (NEXT) in the last year of MBBS which would double up as an entrance test for PG medical and dental courses.

“According to the amendments made in the fresh NMC Bill, entry into the PG programmes will be on the basis of the results of the National Exit Test (NEXT), which would be held as a common exam across the country. So the candidates would not have to appear in a separate exam after clearing the MBBS final exam for admission to PG courses,” a source explained.  

The NMC Bill 2019 has received mixed reviews in the medical community with some hailing it as a much needed replacement for the ‘corrupt’ MCI, while others protesting against it and calling it “anti-poor and anti-students”.

During the discussion on the Bill in the Lok Sabha, opposition members objected to provisions like exit exam and replacing elected members with nominated members in the proposed commission. They alleged that the legislation was against the spirit of federalism.

It is like “throwing the baby with the bathwater… the cure seems to be worst than the disease,” Congress’ Manish Tewari said during the debate and claimed the bill would end-up legalising capitation fee.

The Indian Medical Assocition (IMA) has called for a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest the Lok Sabha approving and passing the National Medical Commission Bill (NMC) 2019. The strike includes only the withdrawal of non-essential services.

“The Lower House on Monday dumped healthcare & medical education of this country into darkness by approving undemocratic Bill,” noted the IMA. It added that Section 32 of the NMC Bill provides for licensing of 3.5 lakhs unqualified non-medical persons to practise modern medicine.

“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 practise modern medicine,” the Association said. “This,” it said, “would mean that all paramedics including pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists, optometrists and others are becoming eligible to practise modern medicine and prescribe independently. This law legalises quackery.”

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