The Union Health Ministry on Monday finalised the names of 19 part-time members of the National Medical Commission (NMC) through a draw of lots in the presence of ministers, senior officials and the media.
The NMC will replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) as the apex regulatory authority of medical education in the country. Four boards – dealing with undergraduate, postgraduate medical education, medical assessment and rating board and the ethics and medical registration board – will regulate the sector. The structure has been made as per the recommendations of a group of experts headed by Ranjit Roy Chaudhury, set up by the Health Ministry to study the norms for the establishment of medical colleges.
Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan termed the selection process a huge and visionary reform in the medical education sect”r. “We had 9 months to select the members of the NMC, and within a short span of two months, we have framed the rules, notified them and also carried out the process of selection of the part-time members of the NMC today. To ensure probity and integrity of the highest order, a compact body is being selected through a transparent mechanism and representation of States and State Councils in rotation. This will facilitate for faster decision making a”so,” he said.
New commission to clean up system
The National Medical Commission (NMC) is the culmination of a very long and contentious process of replacing the Medical Council of India, and signals a complete overhaul of the medical education regulatory system that many feel had been long overdue. The NMC, which will have representation from the states and also experts on it, is expected to clean up the system which has often been described as a “mess”.
The NMC is a 33-member body with a chairperson, ten ex officio members, and twenty-two part-time members. The chairperson has to “e a “medical professional of outstanding ability, proven administrative capacity and integrity, possessing a postgraduate degree in any discipline of medical sciences from any University and having experience of not less than twenty years in the field of medical sciences, out of which at least ten years shall be as a leader in the area of medical educ”tion”.
Ten vice-chancellors of various universities across India were chosen through a first round of lots. Nine more members were selected to the NMC through the same process from amongst the nominees of the state medical councils (SMCs) in the Medical Advisory Council as members of the NMC.
The ex-officio members are the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board president, the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board president, the Medical Assessment and Rating Board president, the Ethics and Medical Registration Board president, and the director general of Health Services, Directorate General of Health Services, New Delhi. Others include the Indian Council of Medical Research director general, a director of any of the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences – to be nominated by the Central Government – and two persons from amongst the directors of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh; Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry; Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai; North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong; and All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata; to be nominated by the Central Government; along with one person to represent the Health Ministry not below the rank of Additional Secretary, to be nominated by the ministry.
The MCI had to be replaced because of recurrent allegations of corruption. The department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee for Health and Family Welfare, in its 92nd report in which it examined the functioning of the MCI, had been scathing in its criticism of the medical regulator. The committee”said: “The Medical Council of India, when tested on the above touchstone (of producing competent doctors, ensure adherence to quality standards, etc) has repeatedly been found short of fulfilling its mandated responsibilities. Quality of medical education is at its lowest ebb; the current model of medical education is not producing the right type of health professionals that meet the basic health needs of the country because medical education and curricula are not integrated with the needs of our health system; many of the products coming out of medical colleges are ill-prepared to serve in poor resource settings like Primary Health Centre and even at the district level; medical graduates lack competence in performing basic health care tasks like conducting normal deliveries; instances of unethical practice continue to grow due to which respect for the profession has dw”ndled.”
The National Medical Commission Act, 2019 received assent of the President on August 8 and was published in the official Gazette on the same day. The Centre sought nominations from states, Union Territories and SMCs for the constitution of the Medical Advisory Council under the Act.