Doctors all over India observing Bundhs, Dharnas, Hunger strikes, rallies opposing the National Medical Council (NMC) Bill. Is it justified? Why Doctors aggrieved ? Whether their apprehensions are genuine? Answer is emphatic NO. You can see the debate in Parliament. Parties speak differently and vote differently. Irony is that parliamentary Standing Committee twice recommended most of the provisions in the Bill. Expert Committee recommended long back scrapping of Medical Council of India (MCI). Standing Committee openly accused MCI as corrupt body. It is almost consensus opinion that present rotten system should be replaced. So, why Doctors ignore public sentiment? Are not they part of Society? Day by day, they are losing confidence from public. Public may not express their feelings vocally much because of their role in the society. For every health issue, they have to approach Doctors. Luckily, here is a person who will not be influenced by Lobbies. In the last Lok Sabha, he tried his level best to pass legislation as recommended by Standing Committee, Expert Committee but ultimately retreated temporarily due to minority in Rajya Sabha as well as approaching Elections.But he never yielded to the Lobby and vested interests.
The existing system was controlled by Medical Council of India consisting of 100 members, mostly representatives from Indian Medical Association from different States. Fine, by theory, it is the most representative body of Doctors. but in practice, these persons continue years together through maneuvers and manipulations. Medical Colleges were forced to pay large sums as bribes to get licence, in the name of deficits in the infrastructure, faculty and on logistic support. On paper, it looks OK .But in practice, all these questions are to collect higher bribes, otherwise licence will be cancelled. Students after one or two years, even after three years will be sent to different colleges. The way it functions all these years remind us 'Licence Raj, Permit Raj era up to 1991. Why Doctors do not question these corrupt practices.
Secondly, in post independent India, though other infrastructure developed in rural areas, health facilities are very poor, almost comparable with Sub-Saharan countries. Several State Governments put mandatory clause to work in rural areas after completion of Under graduation course. But no State Government was dare enough to implement strictly this clause. Doctors' lobby is powerful. Till today, the same situation continues. It will not be transformed in a single day. But political commitment is required to serve rural areas. Unfortunately, for Media, Intellectuals doctors' grievances are more important than rural people grievances. Doctors unions, particularly 'Judas' unions are well organised. Definitely, there are genuine grievances to them. These unions instead of representing them, club lot of other things.Ideology plays major role sometimes.
One major campaign in Media and other forums is about large scale private entry. It is true that private capital is invited and share the health sector development along with Public Sector. All experts without exception(may be except ideological thinkers) wanted big role in Health sector. Government is not in a position to pool up resources. That is the reason ,even after 72 days, position is further deteriorated in rural areas. Any solution from these Doctors?
Coming to the present Bill, it started its journey much early but did not move forward. the salient features of the Bill are standardization of education, providing services in the rural areas, expansion of medical seats significantly, ending of ' Licence Raj and Police Raj' and replacing it with result-oriented competitive system. NEET ( Entry Exam) extended to AIIMS also. NEXT( National Exit Test) is applicable for final year students, eligibility criteria for PG and entry to foreign students.It is student friendly because it avoids multiple exam system presently available. Secondly, by introducing 'Community Health Practitioners' the much needed rural service will be addressed. it is very bad canvas that field level people will be anybody including non-medical assistants as claimed by Gulam Nabi Azad, the leader of opposition. He was Health Minister in UPA Government. Such irresponsible provocations would have been avoided. Can anyone do that. Bill clearly says details will be formulated by NMC Board which now consists of 21 Doctors out of 25 capacity. ( The Bill passed by Lok Sabha was amended by Rajya Sabha and the amendment was moved by Minister himself). One year back, NDA Government dismissed MCI and appointed interim Board. Afterwards, there were large scale expansion in medical seats. All these years under MCI, they functioned with all ills. Lastly, the present Bill gives more leverage to functioning of colleges and institutions and weighed more on NEXT where medical students can understand the standard of college.