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On Monday, Union minister Harsh Vardhan said in Lok Sabha that genuine concerns over the National Medical Commission Bill have been addressed and the legislation will be one of the biggest reforms.
The bill would replace the 63-year-old Medical Council of India (MCI) with the commission to improve the medical education sector. It also seeks to cancel the Indian Medical Council Act 1956, stating that the council that was set up was corrupt and has alleged that the process by which the MCI regulated medical colleges was defective.
Vardhan said that the bill will seek to put in place a new structure to tackle challenges in the medical education sector. He also stated that the bill is a pro-poor legislation and would bring not only government seats but also 50 per cent of all private seats within the reach of commendable students belonging to economically weaker sections.
The Minister of Health and Family Welfare assured that genuine concerns of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have been addressed. Congress member Vincent Pala, who opposed the bill, criticized the proposal to "replace elected members with nominated members" on the Medical Council Board. He also asked how integrity of members of the board would be decided.
BJP member Mahesh Sharma supported the bill and said that the 1956 India Medical Council Act has completely failed to fulfil objectives of the people and the council has become a "den of corruption" and it has been "commercialized". Sharma also said in the proposed board, out of the 26 members, 21 members would be doctors. The legislation would increase the number of seats and teachers in medical colleges and have control over the fee structure too.
Sharma said there has been 25 to 30 per cent growth in countrys medical tourism every year and for maintenance of this trend, the country requires good doctors and medical facilities. The bill will serve the purpose. Sharma said almost 121 medical colleges were set up in the country out of which 60 were in government sector in the last three years, DMK leader A Raja termed it as "anti-poor, anti-social justice, undemocratic and anti-federalism". He said that the bill is a "joke" on the country and would encourage corruption and nepotism in the medical profession. Raja also criticized the proposal of "exit examination" for medical students, as it might ruin the future of students. He also said that the government would have full control over the proposed board.
Trinamool Congress member Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar also said the bill was against the basic principle of federalism and unacceptable as it would risk the future of students. Dastidar also criticized the move to conduct "exit examination" for medical students as it would put unnecessary pressure on students.
Amongst others, the bill has the provision for to make national standards in medical education uniform by recommending that the final year MBBS exam be treated as an entrance test for PG and a screening test for students who graduate in medicine from foreign countries. This exam would be called the National Exit Test (NEXT). NEXT would guarantee that the NMC moves away from a system of repeated inspections of infrastructure and focus on outcomes rather than processes.