The Manmohan Singh government, for the first time, is set to open its doors to foreign doctors—provided they are of the Indian origin — to practice in the country. The union cabinet on Thursday will consider a proposal to amend the Indian Medical Council Act to push the plan.
This is a major shift from the current policy that allows only Indian citizen doctors to practice with foreign degrees (that too after clearing a Medical Council of India test).
The government now wants to lay the red carpet for Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) doctors.An OCI is a person of Indian origin holding a foreign passport but registered with the Centre under the special OCI scheme launched in 2005. The central scheme was aimed to extend certain facilities like life-long visa or parity with Indian nationals in the field of education for the Indian origin foreigners.
According to the proposal before the cabinet, the doctors will have to work in the institution to which they would be called. Doctors from Pakistan or Bangladesh, however, would not be allowed to practice in India as the OCI scheme is not extended to these countries.
After amending the Citizenship Act in 2005 to introduce the concept of OCI, the Centre granted in-principal permission in January 2009 to allow OCIs practice medical science in the country. The MCI act amendment is the final step to roll out the plan.
Although foreign talents are unlikely to solve the manpower crisis in the rural health sector, it may, however, give a fillip to urban medical centres.