The Medical Council of India (MCI) has been repeatedly accused of corruption. Money power can get you anything and everything and recognition to colleges for various medical courses is sold to the highest bidder. The rot came to light when its president Khetan Desai was arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe of ₹2 crore to grant recognition to a medical college in Punjab.
So we can all agree that the system needs change, and it’s encouraging the government took cognizance of the matter. In came the NMC – National Medical Commision Bill.
However, it’s sad to say that the government’s proposal is so far from any solution that it’s going to actually hurt if not destroy medical education and medical service in our country.
Let’s start with medical education. Under NMC, the government wants to remove the regulations of fees for 50% seats at both MBBS and postgraduate level. This means that children from middle-class families can forget about studying medicine. The fees in some private medical colleges in Karnataka for postgraduation are in the tune of ₹90 lakh per year. Fees this exorbitant kills the dreams of lakhs of medical aspirants. It’s simply not possible to pay that much unless, of course, your dad is Ambani or Adani. Our prime minister probably spends too much time with these people that he has forgotten about the people who actually make this country.
Another curveball from the government is the proposed bridge course for AYUSH doctors to prescribe (in essence practice) allopathic medication. After wide protests, this has been left to the state governments to decide, but the provision still exists. I cannot understand the logic of the decision makers. How do they expect a homoeopathic doctor to learn in just six months what an MBBS doctor learns in 5-and-a-half years? Additionally, if you want AYUSH doctors to practice allopathy, then why do we need AYUSH doctors in this country? If an AYUSH doctor takes up the bridge course, aren’t they indirectly telling the public that they’re not confident in their science?
The government says that they want the bridge course to address the lack of doctors in rural areas. Does shortage of doctors mean you will make any Tom, Dick and Harry an allopathic medicine practitioner? Would these politicians be willing to take their loved ones to these “bridge course” doctors?
Shortage can only be solved by increasing the number of MBBS and PG seats. Rural services should be incentivised and appropriate infrastructure should be provided. Also, the bureaucracy should be held accountable. It’s also not that doctors aren’t interested in rural service. There are many doctors who want to but haven’t been given the opportunity.
The NMC bill also allows private medical colleges to increase MBBS and PG seats (with no mention for increase in medical seats for government medical colleges) on their own, without inspections and other procedures. This means the private colleges can now sell more seats (as the fees will be unregulated) and make more profits. This rule shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since many private medical colleges are owned directly or indirectly by politicians.
In short, the NMC bill is disaster waiting to happen, for the doctors and the general public. If you worry about your health, it’s time to worry about the doctors who take care of it. If you do not want substandard doctors to treat you in future, oppose this bill! If you don’t want medical education to be a privilege, oppose this bill! If you dont want the medical fraternity to be governed by politicians and bureaucrats who are famous for their incompetence, oppose this bill!
This protest is as important for you as it’s for the doctors. We can only make the government come to its senses if we stay together and speak in one voice.