OPDs to Remain Shut on 31 July as Doctors Protest Against NMC Bill
OPDs in government hospitals across the country will remain shut on Wednesday, 31 July, as part of protests against the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill which doctors say will encourage ‘quacks’.
As a mark of protesting against the Bill which was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for a nationwide 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services.
The Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) and the Resident Doctors Association (RDA), AIIMS, have asked members to wear black badges.
"The Bill, if not amended, will only lead to a deterioration in the standards in medical education but will also lead to degradation of healthcare services," an RDA statement said.
What Does the Bill Say?
The bill, passed by Lok Sabha on Monday, 29 July, provides for setting up a National Medical Commission in place of Medical Council of India for development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions.
It also has a provision for making national standards in medical education uniform by proposing that the final year MBBS exam be treated as an entrance test for PG and a screening test for students who graduate in medicine from foreign countries.
What Does This Mean?
“Section 32 of the NMC Bill provides for licensing of 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practise modern medicine. The term Community Health Provider has been vaguely defined to allow anyone connected with modern medicine to get registered in NMC and be licensed to practise modern medicine,”RV Asokan, secretary general of IMA
"This would mean that all paramedics including pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists, optometrists and others are becoming eligible to practise modern medicine and prescribe independently. This law legalises quackery," said Asokan.
Doctors Across the Country Join Protest
Doctors from various states like Gujarat, Telangana and West Bengal have joined the 24-hour nationwide strike called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).
"We believe that more than 28,000 doctors in Gujarat have joined the strike on Wednesday beginning 6 am," according to the Gujarat chapter of IMA.
The medical fraternity is anguished that the health minister, a surgeon, instead of including key recommendations made by the Parliament Standing Committee, replaced many provisions with clauses detrimental to the doctors' community.
The IMA termed the bill as 'anti-poor, anti-student and undemocratic'.
Outpatient Services Severely Affected
As a result of this nationwide strike, outpatient services at many government and private hospitals were hit on Wednesday, 31 July. However, emergency services and other departments remained operational.
While the Gujarat IMA claimed majority of the registered doctors joined the strike, officials at Ahmedabad civil hospital, the largest facility in the state, said the strike did not have any major impact on services.
"Civil hospital is functioning as usual. Our doctors have not joined the strike. It is up to the doctors to join the strike or not. Doctors associated with the government-run hospitals have not joined the strike," said civil hospital superintendent M M Prabhakar.
(With Inputs from PTI)
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