Medical Education Governance in India

[op-ed snap] A second opinion on doctor accreditation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : NMC Bill - analysis; Challenges with MCI

CONTEXT

National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2019 passed by the Rajya Sabha evoked widespread protests from doctors. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) called an all-India strike against a few contentious aspects of the bill.

Contentious provision

  1. Section 32 of the NMC Bill would grant “limited” licenses to almost 3,50,000 “community health providers” to practice allopathic medicine, provided they meet a set of qualifying criteria.
  2. Practitioners of ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy could undertake a “bridge course” and legally start offering primary healthcare.

Reasons behind the provision

  1. India is woefully short of trained doctors, especially in the countryside.
  2. The shortage has slowed the state’s program to scale up healthcare facilities and medical education infrastructure.
  3. India still has less than one doctor for every 1,000 people, the WHO’s minimum ratio for healthcare adequacy.
  4. For the efficacy of schemes such as Ayushman Bharat covering 500 million citizens with health insurance—a vast leap needs to be taken on that count.
  5. These factors favor a pragmatic approach; a licensing system by which paramedics and others with an elementary grounding in healthcare could make up a part of the shortfall.
  6. Public services are unreliable and many find themselves priced out of the private market, thus, making medical consultancy unaffordable.

Problem 

  1. According to the IMA, letting patients be treated by people without MBBS degrees would amount to quackery gaining legitimacy in a country full of fraudulent cures and dodgy practices.

Way ahead

  1. Independent panel of well-regarded doctors could keep a close watch on the eligibility process for licenses.
  2. This could involve a common test after practical training has already been imparted.
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