India is lacking the development of quality doctors. The country faces a shortage of 5 lakh doctors. The World Health Organization (WHO) prescribes a doctor-to-patient ratio of 1:1,000.
India has a doctor-patient ratio of 1:1,596. This means for every 1,000 people seeking medical treatment there is less than one doctor (0.62). The situation is worse in rural areas.
The Narendra Modi government hopes the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill will bridge this gap and give a fillip to the healthcare system in the country. But the bill is being opposed by practising doctors.
The NMC bill was passed Parliament, with the Rajya Sabha approving the legislation on Thursday.
The NMC bill, after getting approval from the President, will replace the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956. It will also replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new body called the National Medical Commission.
The call to revamp health administration started arising when the MCI was hit by a huge corruption scandal leading to arrest of its chief Ketan Desai in 2010 and dissolution of the medical body.
It was recreated in 2013 and dissolved again in 2018. Currently, a board of governors regulates the entire health infrastructure of the medical bodies under the MCI.
This will change with the formation of the 25-member NMC. The MCI set standards of medical education, regulated admission to medical colleges and oversaw registration of doctors.
The NMC will regulate fees for half of the sets in medical colleges at both MBBS and postgraduate level in all private and deemed universities. It will also review seat distribution arrangements in various medical colleges to bring uniformity as far as possible.
The government argues that this provision will make medical education affordable even to poor people. The Indian Medical Association, the largest body of doctors in India, does not agree. It said the NMC bill is pro-private management and will lead to corruption hampering the chances of aspirants from poor financial background.