New Delhi, January 2The Lok Sabha is expected to pass the historic National Medical Commission Bill 2017 today to make Medical Council of India history and mandate testing of MBBS pass-outs to determine their quality and skills.Health Minister JP Nadda will pilot the Bill, which is expected to generate tensions in the House with many MPs gearing to oppose it. The Bill ends MCI’s stranglehold on medical education by scrapping the system of annual inspections and allowing addition of MBBS and PG seats to institutions which will be required to adhere to basic standards to be laid down by the commission. Outcome-based monitoring by way of an exit test for MBBS pass-outs will become essential, marking a departure from the earlier system where infrastructure and faculty-based monitoring was the rule.A major contentious issue in the Bill pertains to Section 49, which creates an enabling provision for practitioners of traditional Indian medicine systems to be allowed to prescribe a pre-decided set of medicines for certain common ailments after they do a six-month bridge course.This is the first time any law will allow cross-practicing. The Bill says once a year, the NMC, the Central Council of Homeopathy and the Central Council of Indian Medicine (AYUSH steams) will hold a joint sitting where they can decide whether to give legal force to the enabling provision or not.“Every single member present and voting in the meeting has to say yes for AYUSH doctors to be allowed to prescribe basic modern medicines after a bridge course. Even one dissent means this cannot be done. Of the 25 members in the NMC, at least 16 will be doctors, as per the present provision of the Bill. This number can go up to 22. There is enough safeguard in the Bill to ensure all members discuss the cross-discipline issue. The Bill itself does not allow AYUSH practitioners to prescribe allopathic medicines. It just creates an enabling provision,” top government sources said today.There are six lakh AYUSH practitioners in India and around 10 lakh doctors. The government hopes to use the AYUSH pool to manage the planned 1.2 lakh health sub-centres after doing a bridge course, which IGNOU has designed.
Dr Abha B.H.M.S is an alumni of Bharati Vidypeeth Deemed University's Homoeopathic Medical College, Pune. She has more than 10 years of clinical experience into practising homeopathy. Currently, she is Editor, The Homoeopathic Heritage and www.homeopathy360.com.