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  Life   More Features  11 Aug 2019  Doctor, doctor: What’s your take?

Doctor, doctor: What’s your take?

THE ASIAN AGE. | SEAN COLIN YOUNG
Published : Aug 12, 2019, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Aug 12, 2019, 12:05 am IST

It was only a few days ago that the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill got the President’s approval. But has it got the Indian doctors approval?

The bill proposes a final-year MBBS examination called  NEXT which a student would need to write before starting practising anywhere.
 The bill proposes a final-year MBBS examination called NEXT which a student would need to write before starting practising anywhere.

It had been a chaotic past few weeks with what is being touted as the most important bill for India’s medical education; in fact, for Indian medicine as a whole. The NMC Bill attempts to reform the system completely, but some of its features were the cause of nationwide protests against it being passed.

One of its salient features was the adoption of a final-year MBBS examination called The National Exit Test (NEXT), which a student would need to write before they start practising or preparing for further specialisation. But the controversy lies in Section 32 of the bill ,which states that ‘anyone associated with the practice of medical care can be granted a limited licence to practise medicine at a mid-level as a community health provider (CHP)’.

However, Ankit Luthr, student representative and senior resident of a Delhi-based medical college, feels the NEXT exam is problematic. He says, “In our country, many states have different patterns. The people are different. Hence, there cannot be one single exam for the whole country.”

Dr Sabharwal, MBBS, MD, who is upbeat about the common final-year examination, expresses a different concern. “I would have been happier if instead of having a single date for the NEXT, the governing body would have considered American-style system, wherein the candidate decides their exam date and time slot, with year-round slots available for online testing,” says Dr Sabharwal.

On the subject of CHP, Dr Anuneet Sabharwal weighs in by saying, “The protests were completely justified, with a six-months bridge course deemed sufficient for professionals to practice allopathic medicine. This was rightfully quashed.” Ankit chimes in by saying “In India, where we have so many doctors, the people living in villages will be treated by the CHPs.”

Aditya, a colleague of Ankit, says, “The country is not being able to produce doctors. It will at least produce CHPs to bridge the health gap. We have only 80,000 MBBS seats every year in India. If you do a calculation, to reach 5,00,000 doctors, it would take six to seven years.”

Savitha Kuttan, CEO of Omnicuris, says, “The plan to introduce a bridge course that will provide a medical license to non-allopathic doctors does not send out a clear signal from the government as to whether it wants quality or quantity. If CHPs are allowed to prescribe medication, it might lead to further deterioration in the quality of healthcare delivery.”

The NMC bill also proposes to cap 50% of the seats in private medical colleges, but the ceiling for the cap has not been decided yet. Savitha adds, “This only supports the interests of the management and not the students. We don't want to find ourselves in a situation where parents and students are charged exorbitant fees for medical education.”

“The NMC is expected to ease the access of medical education, especially the more expensive private medical education, within the reach of common people, which in turn may prove beneficial for both doctors and the common man,” hopes Ajoy Khandheria, founder, Gramin Healthcare.

Tags: national medical commission bill