PMO’s directed panel looks to replace MCI with NMC

PMO’s directed panel, headed by Niti Aayog VC is on the verge of scrapping Medical Council of India (MCI) and replacing it with National Medical Commission (NMC).

After coming in for increasing allegations of corruption and criticisms of it’s functioning, the Medical Council of India is likely to be scrapped. In a bid for a complete overhaul of the medical education system, a four-member committee headed by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya has been set up to submit a report plus recommendations to the government after it’s final meeting on Saturday.

Health Secretary B. P. Sharma, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Prime Minister’s Additional Principal Secretary P.K. Mishra are the other members on the committee. The views of a variety of stakeholders were also sought for the report.

The Arvind Panagariya committee seems inclined to adopt the recommendations of the Ranjit Roy Chaudhury committee for restructuring the Medical Council of India (MCI), sources have said. The Roy Chaudhury committee has recommended an umbrella National Medical Commission (NMC) under which will function four separate boards for undergraduate medical education, postgraduate medical education, accreditation and registration.

As per the Roy Chaudhury committee, this umbrella body ‘will serve as the central body providing oversight over medical professionals and their practice, with the overall objective to protect the interest of the doctor, patient and the general public’.

Sources said that the Panagariya committee would largely go by the proposals in the report. These proposals include a restriction of two terms for a member of the commission and a smaller 20-30 member body in place of the current 140-member council.

The committee is likely to recommend also that no member from the MCI’s present staff be appointed to the new medical education commission being proposed ‘for building a modern education system’.

A source at the Aayog said that another recommendation is likely to be taken that the new medical education commission comprise three verticals. Each vertical would be headed by eminent working professionals in the field of health, including from the private sector.

“The committee will not like these professionals to be asked to give up their professional commitments to take up the responsibilities at the new regulator,” the source said. The separate verticals proposed are for overseeing curriculum, ethics and accreditation.

In March 2016, a Parliamentary Standing Committee report called for ‘radical reform’ of the MCI, saying that it neither ‘represents professional excellence nor its ethos’ and that its composition was ‘opaque’ and ‘biased’ against larger public health goals. It also said that the Central government had virtually no power to disagree with the MCI.

Two months later, in May, a report endorsed that medical education and profession in the country were at its ‘lowest ebb’ and suffering from ‘total system failure’ due to corruption and decay. The Supreme Court subsequently, used its rare and extraordinary powers under the Constitution to set up a three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, to oversee the functioning of the MCI for at least a year.

In its May 2 order, the apex court said: “The said (Lodha) Committee will have the authority to oversee all statutory functions under the MCI Act… The Committee will be free to issue appropriate remedial directions. The Committee will function till the Central Government puts in place any other appropriate mechanism after due consideration of the Expert Committee (Ranjit Roy Choudhury) Report.”

The MCI is the top medical regulator in the country, but it has come under a shadow of corruption, inefficiency and mismanagement. Instead of serving the purpose for which it was actually formed, MCI is reported to have instead become one of the major hurdles towards the faster growth of medical education in India, especially when it comes to ensuring quality education.

Only recently, the Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain slammed the MCI. “There is an organisation in this country, whose name is MCI. Their work is to ruin the medical education system of this country. And they are doing it very carefully and very well. They don’t want to increase the number of PG seats,” said Jain while speaking at a conference organised by ET on Saturday.

He said, “The MCI should without any further delay just double, if not triple, the PG seats in government medical colleges and hospitals. And this should be without asking for anything. Because in our government hospitals, there are already two patients on one bed. But I know there is vested interest involved and they will never do it. They are supporting only private medical colleges which charge Rs 1 crore to Rs 5 crore for one medical PG seat.”

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