The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill has been met with opposition from members of the medical community, who have been protesting against it since it was introduced in the Lok Sabha earlier in July. The bill has now been cleared by the Rajya Sabha as well, and doctors around the country have been taking part in protests, boycotting all hospital services and demanding changes to be made to the bill.
As part of the country-wide protests, a group of medical students in Telangana undertook an indefinite hunger strike, with one student having had to be rushed to the hospital on Sunday evening after not having eaten in more than 3 days. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has rallied its chapters throughout the country, with members in different states taking part in the protests.
Meanwhile, resident doctors from Delhiās All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) called off protests on Sunday after they met with Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. āMet the delegation of resident doctors association from AIIMS and Safdarjung hospital. Cleared their misconceptions about the NMC bill. I have full faith that doctors will call off the strike and resume work in the interest of the patients,ā the minister later tweeted.
After the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, doctors around the country started a 24-hour-long protest, led by the IMA. All non-emergency and elective services were shut down during the protest. Following the passing of the bill in the Rajya Sabha, the medical community shut down emergency services as well, with a few junior doctors available to tend to patients in case of an emergency.
While protests have been going on from the time the bill was given clearance by the Union Cabinet early in July, they gained more traction and force since it was passed in the Rajya Sabha on August 1.
The NMC Bill will install the National Medical Commission to oversee medical education in place of the Medical Council of India (MCI), which was dissolved in 2010 following corruption charges against several of its members. In addition, the bill also proposes a common final-year MBBS examination, known as National Exit Test (NEXT), for admission to postgraduate medical courses and for obtaining a licence to practice medicine. Students holding undergraduate medical degrees from foreign countries will be required to take NEXT before they can legally practice in India.
Besides this, the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), common counselling and NEXT would be applicable to institutes of national importance like AIIMS in order to achieve a common standard in medical education in the country.