NEW DELHI: A controversial provision to allow practitioners of alternative medicine to practice modern medicine has been retained in the new version of the National Medical Commission Bill that was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
The Bill, which said a number of such practitioners will be permitted to practice as community health providers, is likely to face stiff protest from doctors again.
Through the Bill, the government is planning to replace the medical education regulator Medical Council of India with a 25-member commission to regulate medical education and give licences to doctors to practice.
In the previous version of the Bill, the government had said a two- year bridge course should be introduced to allow AYUSH doctors to prescribe modern medicines to address shortage of allopaths in rural areas — a suggestion that was vehemently opposed by many doctors’ bodies.
A parliamentary standing committee that examined the Bill also asked the Union Health Ministry to drop the provision following representations from several expert groups. The latest version of the Bill, without mentioning the term “AYUSH”, however, has retained the contentious clause. It said the proposed commission may allow persons connected with modern scientific medical professions to practice medicine at mid level as community health providers but their total number cannot exceed one third of total registered doctors in the country.
Provided that there are nearly 10 lakh registered allopaths in India, it means that nearly 3.3 lakh AYUSH practitioner will be licenced to provide primary level health care to patients.
The provision has again made associations such as the Indian Medical Association uncomfortable.
“This is a dangerous suggestion that we are going to oppose like we did last time,” said former IMA president K K Agarwal. “Also, since the government trusts traditional treatment methods so much why it does want their practitioners to switch to modern medicine? What message will it send to the world when next time the government boasts about indigenous methods like Ayurveda?”