National Medical Commission Act: Relevance for UPSC
GS 2: Health, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies
National Medical Commission Act: Introduction
- The NMC bill was passed on August 1, 2019 in Rajya Sabha and later by Lok Sabha and was introduced to bring out radical reforms in the country’s healthcare/medical sector.
- It aimed to reduce corruption in medical education and provide solutions to the problems that arise between proper functioning of medical colleges.
- It also aimed at rebuilding the national medical regulatory body by clearly defining jurisdiction and responsibilities.
National Medical Commission Act: Why did we need this act?
- India had a doctor-population ratio of 1:1456 as compared with the WHO standards of 1:1000.
- In addition, there was a huge skew in the distribution of doctors working in the Urban and Rural areas with the urban to rural doctor density ratio being 3.8:1.
- Consequently, most of our rural and poor population was denied good quality care leaving them in the clutches of quacks.
- It is worth noting that at present 57.3% of personnel currently practicing allopathic medicine does not have a medical qualification.
National Medical Commission Act: What is The National Medical Commission Bill 2019?
- The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 29, 2019, and by Rajya Sabha on August 01, 2022.
- The Bill was introduced to repeal the Indian Medical Council(MCI) Act, 1956 and provide for a medical education system which ensures: (i) availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals, (ii) adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals, (iii) periodic assessment of medical institutions, and (iv) an effective grievance redressal mechanism.
- Key features of the Bill include:
- (i) availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals,
- (ii) adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals,
- (iii) periodic assessment of medical institutions, and
- (iv) an effective grievance redressal mechanism.
- The bill talks about the formation of a National Medical Commission which will be interested with the task of framing policies for regulation of medical institutions and medical professionals, laying down requirements related to human resources and infrastructure, providing guidelines for determination of fees for up to 50 per cent of the seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities which are regulated under the Bill.
National Medical Commission Act: Key Provisions under NMC Act
- NMC is an overarching body, which frames policies and co-ordinate the activities of four Autonomous Boards.
- These Boards look after the work of UG and PG education, Medical Assessment and Rating; and Ethics & Medical Registration.
- The purpose of having these four independent Boards is to ensure separation of functions between them”, the Union Health Minister explained.
- The National Medical Commission Act is a student-friendly initiative.
- One of the mandates of NMC is to look at the cost of medical education.
- It also provides for a common entrance examination for MBBS (NEET) along with common counseling for all medical institutions in the country.
- This provision prevents seat blocking in parallel counseling processes and will eliminate the need for students to approach multiple colleges and take part in multiple counseling processes for admission.
- This saves students and their families from unnecessary physical and financial trauma.
- Under the NMC Act, the final year examination has been converted into a nationwide exit test called NEXT.
- This single examination grants i) a license to practice medicine, ii) an MBBS degree, and iii) entrance to postgraduate courses.
- With this students are able to concentrate on internships instead of spending all their time preparing for entry into PG courses and thus the burden on students will be greatly reduced.
- The same examination also serves as a licentiate exam for foreign graduates.
- There is a provision for common counseling for entrance to PG courses also. Students get admission to seats in all medical colleges and to Institutes of National Importance like AIIMS, PGI Chandigarh and JIPMER through a single counseling process.
- The Act does not impose any restriction on the number of attempts at NEXT examination.
- A singularly outstanding feature of the NMC Act is that it provides for the regulation of fees and all other charges in 50% seats in private colleges as well as Deemed to be Universities. Earlier, there was no provision to regulate fees in the Indian Medical Council Act 1956.
- As a result, States had to resort to signing of MOUs with medical colleges at the time of granting Essentiality Certificate and thereby gain a handle to regulate fees of state quota seats.
- Nearly 50% of the total MBBS seats in the country are in government colleges, which have nominal fees. Of the remaining seats, 50% would be regulated by NMC.
- This means that almost 75% of total seats in the country would be available at reasonable fees. It must be stressed again at this point that not only fees, but fees and all other charges are being regulated.
- In addition, since the NMC Act has a provision for fees regulation, they have the authority to come up with state amendments regarding regulation of fees for the remaining 50% seats.
Community Health Providers
- The government is focusing at universal health coverage and more importantly, universal screening of our population for non-communicable diseases in the years to come.
- As part of a pragmatic and forward-looking measure in the NMC Act, in remote areas where doctors are not available, there will now be a health professional who can counsel the population, provide early warnings, treat elementary ailments, and provide early referral to a higher facility.
- The utility of such mid-level health providers has been confirmed by the WHO after studying their impact on healthcare in developed and developing countries.
- Even developed countries like USA, Canada and UK have mid-level providers like nurse practitioners.
- In the above background, a provision has been made in the NMC Act to register some Community Health Providers (CHPs) who shall be modern medicine professionals; they shall not be dealing with any alternative system of medicine.
- There should be 10 Vice Chancellors of State Health Universities and 9 elected members of State Medical Councils in the NMC.
- Thus 19 out of 33 members, which is more than half of the total strength, should be from the States and only a minority of members should be appointed by the central government thereby ensuring that the NMC is representative, inclusive and respecting the federal structure of Indian polity.
Draft National Medical Devices Policy 2022
National Medical Commission Act: To be implemented from 2022
- The NMC Bill was to be implemented in 2021 but that couldnt happen due to the pandemic. Now, it needs to be implemented in 2022 under any conditions.
- On February 3, 2022, a notification came on behalf of the government to all medical colleges or institutions that NMC will be applicable for all medical institutions.