Supersession of the Medical Council of India committee is only a smokescreen to prepare the ground for the National Medical Council (NMC) and introduce “crosspathy”, according to the Indian Medical Association.

The MCI India committee has been dissolved to implement bridge courses, introduce “crosspathy” and registration of non-medical persons who practice in rural areas, experts said. These could harm the medical sector in the long run.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) action committee, in an emergency session in Mumbai, condemned the “supersession” of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and noted that “this action of the Government, at a juncture when the election to the MCI has been announced, is unwarranted and malafide.”

Earlier this week, in a move to enhance the governance and the quality of medical education, an Ordinance was issued dissolving the MCI and replacing it with a seven-member Board of Governors (BOG) led by NITI Aayog member Dr. V.K. Paul.

A Bill to replace the MCI with the National Medical Commission (NMC) is pending in Parliament.

The Board of Governors also includes Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi; Dr. Jagat Ram, Director, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh; Dr. B. N. Gangadhar, Director, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru; and Dr. Nikhil Tandon, Professor, Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at AIIMS Delhi.

A release issued by the IMA on Saturday, said the composition of the Board itself was unacceptable. “Directors of major institutions would scarcely find time to administer more than 450 medical colleges and their undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Moreover, there is no representation to women and registered medical practitioners,” said the release.

The IMA added that the “supersession” of the MCI is only a smokescreen and a ploy to prepare the ground for the NMC and sabotage the democratic process of the Council. That the government was in a hurry to scuttle the democratic election process was evident, it said. The Association demanded that the Board should refrain from taking major policy decisions or amendments changing the character of the IMC Act. It also demanded that the election process of the MCI should be allowed to continue. “This is the fourth time that the BOGs are being appointed. All the previous attempts were abject failures. The eminent clinicians appointed have little exposure to the day-to-day administration of the MCI. Moreover, the government has not cited any reason for superseding the MCI,’’ said IMA national president Dr. Ravi Wankhedkar.

The Association has demanded that the BOG should conform to the basic tenets of the IMC Act and refrain from tinkering with its fundamental structure. “Crosspathy, registration of non medical persons, bridge courses and mixing of syllabi are core concerns. 184 private medical colleges are awaiting recognition due to the strict norms of the outgoing MCI team. By removing the democratically elected MCI checks and balances have been removed and chances of arbitrary actions have increased. A generation of substandard doctors will be the legacy of this action,’’ noted the release.

Telangana IMA president Dr T. Narsinga Reddy explained, “The dissolution of the committee comes at a time when new members were to be appointed. The government intends to introduce the NMC Bill and pass it in Parliament. On three occasions earlier, the MCI was removed and they have seen the results.” He said 184 medical colleges were awaiting recognition due to the strict process of the MCI. Of these 168 are new colleges for which permission needed to be given.

Senior IMA members stated that the government was using indirect means to dictate terms. The MCI Board of Governors comprises heads of institutes including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, Delhi), National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans, Bengaluru) and Institute of Medical Education and Research but they are not full-time members working for the MCI.

A senior member explained, “The Board has highly placed officials and doctors who are so busy that they meet only to say yes to the proposal of the government. There are day-to-day activities of the MCI like inspections and clearance for medical colleges which will be stalled. The aim of the government is to make the MCI non-functional and work out a strategy to clear the NMC Bill.”

The IMA in a resolution has stated that it will resist the NMC Bill and any intention to implement it through the appointed Board of Governors will be fought with determination. The IMA members also demanded that the election process in progress in the MCI should be allowed to continue.

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