JP Nadda
Union Health Minister JP Nadda in Lok SabhaTwitter

In a bid to bring reform in the medical education and healthcare system in India, which has been under scrutiny for quite a while now, the Central government on December 30 proposed a Bill in the Lok Sabha which stated that doctors pursuing studies in forms of alternate medicine, including ayurveda and homeopathy, may be allowed to practise allopathy after they have cleared a "bridge course."

The government is bringing the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2017 seeking to do away with the current supreme medical education regulator — the Medical Council of India (MCI).

Speaking to IBTimes India, Dr Pradeep Joshi — Deputy General Manager from West Coast Paper Mills Hospital in Dandeli, Karnataka, said: "The bill has been proposed to abolish the MCI. We have received information that the doctors might have to get their registrations redone from the NMC."

Joshi added, "The doctors who have been practising for many years will face problems in getting their registration redone."

Of the various clauses which the Bill contains, Clause 49 calls for the National Medical Commission -- the Central council of Homeopathy and the Central Council of Indian Medicine -- at least once in an year to "enhance the interface between homoeopathy, Indian systems of medicine and modern systems of medicine".

The Bill also proposes certain educational modules for developing bridges, which will be possible after all the members in the joint sitting have approved it.

The Bill reads: "The joint sitting, may, by an affirmative vote of all members present and voting, decide on approving specific bridge course that may be introduced for the practitioners of Homeopathy and of Indian Systems of Medicine to enable them to prescribe such modern medicine at such level as may be prescribed."

What NMC Bill 2017 stipulates

A committee of 25 members will replace the MCI. The proposed NMC will have a chairman nominated by the government as well as other members, while a Cabinet Secretary will form a search committee for electing the board members.

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[Representational Image]Twitter

The Bill also provides for four autonomous boards responsible for conducting undergraduate and postgraduate education, as it will assess and rate the medical institutions and the practitioners under the NMC Bill 2017.

The Bill will also bring in a common entrance exam for all the medical academicians in order to licentiate the eligible candidates who will be cleared to get practising licences.

There will be certain recommendations to the NMC by medical advisory council which will include one member representing each state and the Union territory (vice-chancellors in both cases), the chairman, University Grants Commission, and the director of the National Accreditation and Assessment Council, NDTV reported.

However clarifying on the NMC, a senior health ministry official said the Bill is aims to introduce reforms in the medical education sector which has been under scrutiny for corruption and unethical practices.

IMA opposes Bill

Senior doctors from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have strongly condemned the Bill as they allege the NMC will cripple the working pattern of the medical profession.

K K Agarawal
Indian Medical Association (IMA) President K K AgarawalIANS

IMA members further said the Bill will force the profession to stand answerable to bureaucracy and non-medical administrators.

IMA President KK Aggarwal said: "Regulators need to have an autonomy and be independent of the administrators. The National Medical Commission will be a regulator appointed by the administrators under their direct control."