The Centre has commenced recruitment efforts for the National Medical Commission (NMC), its major overhaul of the country’s medical education sector.
The chairperson of the NMC is required to be a medical professional with at least twenty years of experience in the field and the power to “inspire, engage and empower the medical workforce”, the Union Health Ministry has said as it begins posting advertisements soliciting applications. As well as the chairperson of the NMC, the Centre is recruiting for advisory boards convened under the NMC including ethics, registration, assessment, and ratings according to a report in The Economic Times.
The NMC Bill, passed earlier this year, was the subject of much controversy and faced opposition from the medical fraternity in India. Perhaps the most visceral display of the outcry was the sight of medical students burning copies of the Bill in the street whilst strike action by doctors took place across the country.
Chief concerns included the notion that the NMC – which replaces the Medical Council of India – represented a centralisation of power and diminishment of the role of states. Further, there has also been criticism of proposals such as a ‘bridge course’ to allow practitioners of external and paramedical disciplines, including physiotherapy and alternative medicine, to practise allopathy.
Vardhan sought to allay fears, insisting that the bridge course represented a temporary measure until the healthcare workforce is sufficiently staffed and taking measures to increase representation of states within the NMC, including by expanding the size of the Commission. These amendments were approved by the Union Cabinet and some support from the medical fraternity – notably the Delhi Medical Association.
Despite the opposition by doctors, the NMC Bill was passed by both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind. Now that efforts are underway to fill the posts of the NMC, the government’s reform is well and truly underway.