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IMA to observe nationwide protest today to oppose 'anti-poor' bills

ANI | Updated: Jan 04, 2019 03:08 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 4 (ANI): All branches (Local and state) of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) will remain shut on Friday as a mark of protest against the "anti-poor" National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2017, IMC (amendments) Bill 2018, and Consumer Protection Bill 2018 pending before the Parliament.
All IMA members will wear black badges across the country as part of the protest and hand over memoranda to all MPs in their constituencies.
IMA's national president Dr. Santanu Sen, said, "NMC as such still remains an anti-poor, anti-people and anti-federal legislation which if allowed to pass will have unforeseen consequences not only on the healthcare sector but also on the federal structure of the country."
Further elaborating about why the IMA opposes the NMC Bill 2017, Sen said, "Reservation of medical seats up to 50 per cent for management is a denial of equitable opportunities and is certainly anti-people and pro-rich. At present most of the states have a fee-fixing committee. After the implementation of NMC Bill, they would lose their power to regulate fees."
"The NMC bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health which had recommended 24 amendments unanimously. The government only accepted one recommendation and some in a partial manner. The IMA is determined to resist and oppose it at all costs," he added.
The original Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986 passed by the Parliament did not envisage including the medical profession. This was later brought under the purview of CPA in 1994 by a verdict of the Supreme Court.
IMA's secretary general Dr RV Asokan said, "IMA is opposing the IMC (Amendments) Bill 2018 which was recently passed in Lok Sabha. IMA has very strong reservations in the way that an elected Medical Council of India (MCI) was superseded for no credible reason and undue haste was shown to proclaim an ordinance creating a nominated Board of Governors while the election process was underway. MCI represents the plurality of opinion from a multitude of institutions in our federal nation. It is preposterous to install a group of nominated Board of Governors who will never be able to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of diverse people of our country."
On March 28, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved certain amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.
The Centre considered the recommendations after a DRPSC report was tabled in the House on March 20 and general feedback, particularly the views of medical students and practitioners regarding certain provisions of the Bill.
Responding to the demands from states to increase their representation in the NMC, the nominees of states and Union Territories have been increased from three to six. The NMC will now comprise of 25 members of which 21 will be doctors.
The Cabinet approval also replaced the clause of the monetary penalty with a provision which provides different options for a warning, reasonable monetary penalty, reducing intake, stoppage of admission leading up to the withdrawal of recognition.
The wide range of monetary penalty, ranging from one half to ten times the annual fee recovered from a batch, was one of the major concerns while approving the amendments.
Stringent punishment for unqualified medical practitioners or quacks have been approved as the central government is concerned about the quality and safety of healthcare being made available to the citizens and the need to act strictly against unqualified practitioners.
The punishment for any unauthorised practice of medicine has been upgraded by including a provision for the imprisonment of up to one year along with a fine extending up to Rs 5 lakh. (ANI)