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[Answered] “Medical Commission Bill, 2019 seeks to ensure transparency and better medical standards .” Discuss.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Introduce with issues of MCI.
Body. Key features and issues of the bill. It’s significance.
Conclusion. Way forward.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) established under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, maintain standards of medical education, give approval to establish medical colleges and medical courses. Over the years, there have been several issues with the functioning of the MCI with respect to its regulatory role, composition, allegations of corruption, and lack of accountability. The National Medical Bill, 2019 seeks to remove such issues ensuring transparency and better medical standards.

Key Features of the Bill for better medical standards and transparency:

  • National Medical Commission: The Bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC) which will consist of 25 members. Functions of the NMC are:
    • Framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals.
    • Assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure, and
    • Framing guidelines to determine fees for up to 50% of the seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities.
  • Autonomous Boards: Four autonomous Boards have been set up under the supervision of the NMC.  These boards will formulate standards for various medical courses and will regulate professional ethics of the doctors.
  • Medical Advisory Council: The central government will constitute a Medical Advisory Council through which the states/union territories can put forth their views and concerns before the NMC. Further, the Council will advise the NMC on measures to enable equitable access to medical education.
  • Qualifying examinations: There will be a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to under-graduate and post-graduate medical education in all medical institutions regulated by the Bill.
  • National Exit Test: The Bill proposes a common final year undergraduate examination called the National Exit Test for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice. The National Exit Test will also serve as the basis for admission into post-graduate courses at medical institutions. This will help in reducing shortage of specialist doctors.
  • Community health providers: The Bill states that the NMC may grant limited license to certain mid-level practitioners connected with the modern medical profession to practice medicine in primary and preventive healthcare. This will ensure healthcare services in rural areas.
  • Appeal on matters related to professional and ethical misconduct: State Medical Councils will receive complaints relating to professional or ethical misconduct against a registered medical practitioner. If the medical practitioner is aggrieved of a decision of the State Medical Council, he may appeal to the Ethics and Medical Registration Board.

Significance of the NMC Bill:

  1. It will help commission to regulate medical education and practice in India leading to better medical standards.
  2. It will address the issue Corruption in medical education through transparent appointment to the commission.
  3. It will help in reducing shortage of medical professionals by giving license to community health providers.
  4. It will ensure ethical standards in the medical practice through Ethics board.
  5. It will rationalise fees in private medical colleges thereby making medical education more affordable.

Some Issues in the Bill:

  1. The NMC will consist of 25 members, of which at least 15 (60%) are medical practitioners. To reduce the monopoly of doctors, it should include diverse stakeholders such as public health experts, social scientists, health economists, and health related non-government organisations.
  2. Disputes related to ethics and misconduct in medical practice may require judicial expertise. 
  3. The Bill does not specify a time period for the NMC to decide on an appeal. 
  4. The Bill introduces a National Exit Test for students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the licence to practice as a medical professional. But Bill does not specify the validity period of this licence to practice. 

National medical will seek to set better medical standard ensuring transparency. It is need of the hour to replace old aged medical council of India which is facing various issues.