Docs sore over NMC decision to curtail 3 depts from essential list at medical colleges - Hindustan Times

Docs sore over NMC decision to curtail 3 depts from essential list at medical colleges

By, Patna
Aug 24, 2023 10:27 PM IST

The National Medical Commission (NMC) has removed three departments from the list of essential departments for medical colleges, causing tension with doctors. The departments of physical medicine and rehabilitation, respiratory medicine, and emergency medicine were removed, sparking criticism from experts in those fields. The NMC has also faced backlash for other recent decisions, including banning doctors from attending seminars sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and making it mandatory for them to prescribe generic drugs.

The National Medical Commission (NMC)’s decision to remove three departments from the list of essential departments every medical college approved for undergraduate admissions or MBBS course should have, has added to the growing differences between the regulator and the doctors.

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Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR), respiratory medicine and emergency medicine are the three departments the NMC Undergraduate Medical Education Board (UMEB) has curtailed from the earlier list of 24 departments for undergraduate medical colleges, while issuing the “guidelines for under graduate courses under establishment of new medical institutions, starting of new medical courses, increase of seats for existing courses and assessment and rating regulations, 2023”, published in the gazette on August 16.

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The NMC has now whittled down the essential departments from 24 to 21, adding integrative medical research, a combination of modern and ancient medicine (allopathy and AYUSH), while removing the three departments, in addition to radiation oncology, which was optional, as part of the “minimum requirements for annual MBBS admissions regulations, 2020,” published in the gazette on October 28, 2020.

Experts from the respective fields have already petitioned the Union health minister Mansukh Madaviya, seeking his intervention to reinstate the departments.

“It is shocking to find that the specialty of PMR has been removed from the undergraduate MBBS curriculum. This is in stark contravention to your lawful duty towards divyangjan (differently abled) mentioned in the RPwD Act, 2016, because ensuring right to health for divyangjan is possible only if the budding physicians are well aware of PMR practice during their undergraduate training in MBBS,” said Dr Sanjay Kumar Pandey, national secretary of the Indian Association of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, in his letter to Union health minister Mansukh Madaviya on August 21. HT has seen the letter.

“Removing PMR as a mandatory department in a medical college for MBBS curriculum will affect the new crop of medical graduates, who will be ignorant to the medical needs of the differently-abled in India, where nearly 2.5% of India’s total population are divangjan,” said Dr Pandey.

Dr Surya Kant, professor and head, department of respiratory medicine, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, and also chairman of the North Zone Task Force of the National TB elimination Programme had also written to Mandaviya on August 21, appealing to reinstate respiratory medicine department in the essential list of departments in a medical college for undergraduate medical programme. HT had seen the letter.

Nagpur’s Dr Rajesh Swarnakar, secretary of the Indian Chest Society, had also written to Mandaviya on Wednesday with a similar request to reinstate respiratory medicine department as an important and necessary specialty for undergraduate MBBS curriculum. HT had seen the letter.

Earlier, the Madurai Respiratory Society had also separately written to Mandaviya on August 18, expressing its concern over the decision of the NMC undergraduate medical education board to remove respiratory medicine (TB and chest diseases) department from the mandatory list of undergraduate medical education.

It said the decision to remove respiratory medicine from the mandatory department list could potentially hinder the training and development of medical professionals who were pivotal in combating TB, pollution-related lung diseases, occupational lung diseases, smoking-related lung issues, and asthma.

Dr SN Sinha, vice-chancellor of the Bihar University of Health Sciences, which looks after all 11 state government medical colleges and four of the seven private medical colleges in the state, said: “Each of the three disciplines of respiratory medicine, PMR and emergency medicine are vast and critical in medical science. They should have existed as independent departments in undergraduate medical colleges for better understanding of the subject among budding doctors. The NMC has, of late, been experimenting too much. There should have been a national debate before the NMC took a decision to remove them as independent departments.”

The NMC could not be contacted for its response. NMC president of the medical assessment and rating board (MARB) did not respond to HT’s e-mail, sent at 2:46 pm on Wednesday.

The NMC has, however, put these decisions in abeyance vide another gazette notification on August 23 following protest by doctors and the Indian Medical Association (IMA)’s meeting with the Union health minister.

“Through the gazette notification circulated today, the NMC has put in abeyance its National Medical Commission Registered Medical Practitioner (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 2023, which among others banned doctors from prescribing branded drugs and attending seminars sponsored by pharmaceutical firms, after a gazette notification on August 2,” said Dr Ajay Kumar, past president of IMA, Bihar.

The NMC’s recent decisions to ban doctors from attending seminars sponsored by pharmaceutical firms, and also making it mandatory for them to prescribe generic drugs, which are cheaper than branded ones, has added to growing bitterness between the doctors and the regulator.

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    Ruchir writes on health, aviation, power and myriad other issues. An ex-TOI, he has worked both on Desk and in reporting. He over 25 years of broadcast and print journalism experience in Assam, Jharkhand & Bihar.

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