Are community health providers quacks? Doctors divided over NMC clause
Medical professionals stand deeply divided over National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2009 with a section supporting it and others calling it “draconian” and “undemocratic”.Updated: Aug 01, 2019, 21:30 IST
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan hailed the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2019 as revolutionary and a watershed moment in regulating medical education in the country, but medical professionals are deeply divided, with a section supporting it and others calling it “draconian” and “undemocratic”.
The reasons for opposing the bill are many, but the most vehemently opposed clause is Section-32 that gives “limited licence to practice medicine at mid-level as community health providers to persons connected with modern scientific medical profession”. It is being seen as promoting quackery by those from the medical fraternity that do not want the bill to be passed in Rajya Sabha.Watch: RS passes National Medical Commission Bill, medical fraternity on warpath
“This is nothing but legalizing quackery in India. Who will guarantee that these ‘legalised quacks’ will work in villages only? Limiting the scope of their practice also will be an impractical challenge… will open the floodgates for licensing 3.5 lakhs ‘legalised quacks’. This amounts to ‘licence to kill,” wrote Indian Medical Association to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
Jairam Ramesh, who is a member Rajya Sabha and a part of the standing committee that recommended changes in the bill, pointed out during the discussion on the bill in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that the controversial section was not a part of the original bill that was referred to the parliamentary standing committee for review in January 2018.
In the absence of doctors, mid-level health providers are the best option, say others in favour of the Bill. “At least some care is available to patients if there are no doctors available, especially in rural areas. Young doctors resist from joining rural health facilities largely due to lack of facilities. Until government improves infrastructure in villages that attracts doctors, this should work,” says Dr Girish Tyagi, president, Delhi Medical Association, which is supporting the bill.