Saturday, March 10, 2018

General public should join hands with IMA in its fight against NMC

"Join the All India Cycle Yatra on Sunday, 11th March'

Dr KK Aggarwal
Recipient of Padma Shri

The doctor-patient relationship has been deteriorating over the past few years. Trust, the basic premise of this relationship, has been undermined. The recent incidents of hugely inflated bills and overcharging for drugs/devices or diagnostics for profiteering has fuelled a negative image of the profession among the public and further compounded the problem.

The proposed National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill is another example. While, people may perceive this bill as pertaining only to the medical profession; however, some provisions in the Bill are also detrimental to public health.

The Bill allows Ayush doctors to practice modern system of medicine after completing a bridging course. Though envisioned as a solution to ‘bridge’ the gap between demand and supply, the outcome of the Bridge course will be half-baked doctors and an unscientific mixing of two systems of medicine, which have no common meeting ground, which will endanger the lives of the public, at times with disastrous consequences. Most importantly, it will spell doomsday for alternative systems of medicine as most practitioners would shift to practicing modern medicine. They will become as costly as Allopathy.

Presently, only 15% seats were under control of management in private medical college. But, now as many as 60% seats would be management seats. Medical education will become costly and by implication, health care costs would increase. Medical education would be out of reach for meritorious students belonging to economically lower sections of society, who aspire to be doctors. It will not curb corruption, but become a breeding ground for corruption.

The Bill makes it mandatory for MBBS graduates to clear a licentiate examination to get a license to practice. Those students who pass MBBS but fail in the licentiate exam will not be allowed to practice. Outcome would be more unemployed MBBS graduates, who are willing to serve, but are unable to. India already faces a shortage of doctors in the country with less than one doctor for every 1000 population against the minimum doctor-population ratio of 1:1000 made by ‘High Level Expert Group (HLEG) for Universal Health Coverage’ constituted by the Planning Commission in 2011 and also recommended by the WHO.

Health care must not only be available and accessible, it should be affordable. The govt. spends only around 1% of GDP on health care and out-of-pocket expenditures on health care (62%) are one among the highest in the world.

We are fighting against the NMC Bill in its present format as it is an “anti-people” Bill.

But, this fight is not for the medical association to fight alone. These are issues, which the association cannot fight in isolation. Because the implications of this Bill would affect one and all in the general public.

Everyone needs health care, and affordable care at that, at one point of time or the other in their lifetime.

There is no denying that greater transparency in the system is required. But to set things right, we need to work together.

Hence, the general public including associations like RWAs, NGOs should support doctors and join hands with IMA in its fight against the NMC Bill.

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
Vice President CMAAO
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA

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