The National Medical Commission Act is the need of the hour for reforming medical education. Discuss. (250 Words)

Mentors Comments:
1. Discuss the provisions of NMC Act
2. Why was it brought in first place and what are the intended benefits of the body.
3. What are its limitations
4. What should be done to do away those limitations?
5. Provide a suitable conclusion

Answer:
The National Medical Commission Bill is the product of the NITI Aayog and was drafted following a scathing standing committee report in 2016 on the corrupt functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI). It will repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.

Following are the reasons for which the govt sought to replace the MCI-
1. The Medical Council of India has repeatedly been found short of fulfilling its mandated responsibilities.
2. Quality of medical education is at its lowest ebb; the current model of medical education is not producing the right type of health professionals that meet the basic health needs of the country because medical education and curricula are not integrated with the needs of our health system.
3. Medical graduates lack competence in performing basic health care tasks like conducting normal deliveries; instances of unethical practice continue to grow due to which respect for the profession has dwindled.
4. Compromised individuals have been able to make it to the MCI, but the Ministry is not empowered to remove or sanction a Member of the Council even if he has been proved corrupt.
 
Salient Features of the NMC Bill
1. Functions of the National Medical Commission will include:
 Regulating medical institutions and medical professionals
 Assessing the requirements of healthcare-related human resources and infrastructure
 Ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils
 Framing guidelines for determination of fees for up to 50% of the seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities
2. It provides for 4 autonomous boards viz Under-Graduate Medical Education Board, Post-Graduate Medical Education Board etc under the supervision of the NMC.
3. It seeks to grant limited license to certain mid-level practitioners connected with the modern medical profession to practice medicine.
4. It provides for uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for UG and PG courses.
5. It provides for National Exit Test, to obtain the license for the practice.

Significance of National Medical Commission Bill, 2019
1. The NMC has the potential to link the disease burden and the specialties being produced.
2. By introducing qualifying exams like NEET and NEXT, NMC can instill uniformity in the standard of competence and skills.
3. The State Medical Council will act as a grievance redressal body for any complaints relating to professional or ethical misconduct against a registered medical practitioner.
4. NMC can encourage and incentivise innovation and promote research by laying down rules that make research a prerequisite in medical colleges.
5. NMC can encourage and incentivise innovation and promote research by laying down rules that make research a prerequisite in medical colleges.

Concerns:
 The composition of the members of NMC which are to be nominated by the Union government can possibly lead to favouritism and bureaucratic interference.
 The extensive discretionary powers that the Bill provides to government reduce the accountability of NMC and make it virtually an advisory body.
 The NMC Bill provides for licensing of 3.5 lakhs non-medical persons to practise modern medicine. However, the term Community Health Provider has been vaguely defined.
 The capping of the fees of 50% of seats in private medical colleges is dubbed to be anti-poor, as the remaining 50% of seats which is called the management quota, will witness a high rise in fees. This can deny admission to poor students on 50% seats.

Way Forward
 To bolster healthcare delivery there can be a three-year diploma for rural medical-care providers, along the lines of the Licentiate Medical Practitioners who practised in India before 1946. 
 NMC shouldn’t open gates to overseas doctors to regularly practice medicine or perform surgery without qualifying the National Licentiate Examination or induct Ayush colleagues without clearing NEXT.
 Also, the accreditation and rating function of the Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB) should be out of the ambit of NMC. This was also the recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee report in March 2016.
 Clear guidelines are required indicating the circumstances and diseases where traditional practitioners can prescribe allopathic medicines.

India has suffered from the problem of inappropriately trained doctors of varying quality since a very long time. The NMC should not worsen this rather help in improving the medical education and practice in the country. In addition to this, the government must thoroughly focus on addressing much bigger issues like Antibiotic resistance, crunch in public expenditure in health etc.

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