Medical Education Governance in India

[op-ed snap] Billed for change: NMC Billop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Prelims Level: Particulars of the NMC bill

Mains Level: Concerns discussed, regarding the NMC bill, in the newscard.


Acceptance of suggestions

  1. The Union Cabinet has recently approved six out of the dozens of changes to the contentious National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill that were suggested by a Parliamentary Standing Committee

These changes address some of the loudest criticisms of the Bill

  1. Among them, the final year MBBS exam is now merged with an exit exam for doctors,
  2. and a contentious bridge course for AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy) practitioners has been removed
  3. Health-care experts had recommended other modifications, which the Cabinet ignored
  4. For example, despite the Cabinet’s amendments, the NMC, the regulatory body that will replace the Medical Council of India, will be heavily controlled by the government

Other changes accepted by the cabinet

  1. The amendments cleared by the Cabinet also increase State representation in the NMC from three part-time members to six, in what seems like a gesture to please the States
  2. Contrast this with the parliamentary committee’s recommendation to include 10 State representatives, given India’s vastness
  3. Another amendment that doesn’t go far enough is the decision to raise the proportion of private college seats for which fees will be regulated from 40% to 50%
  4. The fees for unregulated seats could then increase abruptly, pushing poorer medical aspirants out of the system

Future challenges

  1. Despite these deficiencies, if passed by Parliament, the legislation will mark a new era for medical education in India
  2. The next step will be to design rules and regulations that capture the intent of this law(NMC bill)
  3. This itself will be a massive challenge
  4. Another concern is that under the new amendments States now have the freedom to implement an AYUSH bridge course, even if no longer mandatory
  5. How will the Centre ensure the quality of such courses to prevent a new set of poorly trained doctors from emerging?

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