It’s time to pull the plug on Medical Council of India
Earlier this year, a parliamentary panel had called for revamping the MCI, saying it has failed in its role as a regulator, which has led to a downfall in India’s medical education systemanalysis Updated: Nov 25, 2016 07:18 IST
The winter session of Parliament is in progress and one of the key Bills that is scheduled to be presented for passage is the National Medical Commission Bill, 2016, which seeks to replace the Medical Council of India(MCI) with a national medical commission (NMC).
With demonetisation hogging the time and energy of MPs, one doesn’t know if this new Bill will be discussed during this session, but it’s time to scrap the corrupt and derelict Medical Council of India (MCI).
The MCI is a statutory body with the responsibility of establishing and maintaining “high standards of medical education and recognition of medical qualifications in India”.
It registers doctors to practice in India, in order to protect and “promote the health and safety of the public” by ensuring “proper standards” in the practice of medicine.
While the MCI’s stated intentions are no doubt righteous, the reality is different: Four years after doctors removed the uteruses of 703 women in Bihar to siphon off surgery reimbursements under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna, the central health insurance scheme for poor families, MCI has failed to take action against even one doctor.
They managed to put off any action against the corrupt and unethical doctors even after the Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) wrote to the MCI in April to punish the physicians involved in the “uterus scam”.
As directed by the BHRC, the Bihar government lodged FIRs against 33 empanelled hospitals and 13 doctors but the doctors continue to practice and the hospitals remain functional.
If approved, the NMC, which will replace MCI, will become the main regulatory body and take over all roles and responsibilities of the organisation.
The new body will have eminent doctors and experts from related fields to steer medical education in the country so as to ensure quality of education is at par with global standards.
The demand for revamping the MCI has been doing the rounds for some time: Earlier this year,a parliamentary panelhad called for revamping the MCI, saying it has failed in its role as a regulator, which has led to a downfall in India’s medical education system.
The MCI president admitted to the committee that there is rampant corruption in the country’s apex medical education regulator. The report noted that the president admitted “corruption was there when there was sanctioning of medical colleges, or increasing or decreasing seats. The committee has also been informed that private medical colleges arrange ghost faculty and patients during inspections by MCI and no action is taken for the irregularity”.
In May, the Supreme Court appointed the Lodha panel to oversee the MCI because the regulator is often accused of indulging in corrupt practices.
The MCI, however, thinks that there is organised vendetta against it.
In an application to the SC in June, the MCI said the SC order is based on a perception that the organisation is corrupt.
Voicing its strong reservations against the reasons the top court cited to appoint the panel, the MCI said vested interests have orchestrated a well-designed propaganda against the council to render it weak and toothless.
The MCI has its reasons to defend itself, but how would it explain its lax attitude towards erring doctors in the Bihar case?