Health services disrupted in Gurugram as medical fraternity protests NMC Bill
At least 590 private clinics and nursing homes in the city shut their out-patient departments (OPD) and withdrew non-essential services on Wednesday in protest against the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill being passed by the Lok Sabha, said members of Indian Medical Association (IMA).
The move was part of a nationwide strike called by the IMA and other doctors’ associations.
Gurugram’s Civil Hospital in Sector 10 remained shut because of a state holiday, city’s major private hospitals remained functional.
“The NMC Bill promotes quackery, is anti-poor and will be disadvantageous for meritorious students,” Ajay Gupta, secretary of IMA’s Gurugram chapter, said, adding that he hopes the strike in Gurugram, which is a hub for medical tourism in the national capital region (NCR) and surrounding areas, would send a strong message to the Centre.
“Our main concern is Section 32 of the Bill, which will allow over three lakh community healthcare providers in primary healthcare centres, with no proper medical training, to prescribe drugs to patients. It sets a very poor precedent for the safety of people, particularly in rural India,” Gupta said.
Though the OPDs of popular private hospitals were open as usual, Gupta said the strike was observed successfully implemented in the city. “There were instances wherein people who came for treatment were turned away, though in case of any emergencies, they were referred to the emergency department, which remained open,” he said.
Another key contention against the Bill is that it proposes a common exam—National Exit Test (NEXT)—as the final year exam for the undergraduate course, a licentiate exam for a career in medicine, as an entrance test for postgraduate courses, and a screening test for students graduating from foreign countries.
Section 45 of the Bill also threatens the autonomy of the NMC, doctors have maintained, as it will allow the Centre to override recommendations and suggestions by the apex medical body, in addition to empowering the Centre to give directions to the NMC and various autonomous boards regarding policy matters.