Express News Service
New Delhi: Doctors across India are strongly opposing a provision in the National Medical Commission Bill, tabled in the parliament on Friday, that seeks to let homeopaths and practitioners of other alternative medicines practice modern medicine through a short term course.
The Bill, that is aimed to regulate medical education in the country by replacing corruption tainted Medical Council with India with a National Medical Commission, has introduced the concept of “Bridge Course” to promote medical pluralism by allowing AYUSH doctors to practice allopathy.
“The Commission shall hold meeting with Central Councils of Homeopathy and Indian Medicine that will reside on approving educational modules to develop bridges across the various systems of medicine and promote medical pluralism,” the bill says.
Most of the doctors’ bodies however are up in arms against the proposal saying it is akin to “giving legal sanction to quackery in the country”.
“This provision is totally unacceptable to us as it will lead to an army of half-baked doctors in the country,” said K K Aggarwal, president of the Indian Medical Association. ?”First of all, a doctor is registered with a council but in case of a bridged doctor there will always be ambiguity on the registration aspect. Also, if those doctors make mistakes and people pay with their lives because of those mistakes, who is going to be held accountable?,” Aggarwal said.
“We as an association feel that by pushing this provision, the government is giving sanction to quackery.” Aggarwal’s association represents over 3 lakh doctors in the country.
Satish Tyagi, secretary of Delhi Medical Association, too, said that the association will knock on every door possible to “get the contentious clause chucked out from the bill.”
“It (the provision) is every bit condemnable and when the bill talks about introducing a licentiate exit examination for even MBBS pass outs before they can start practicing, how can it allow degradation of medical education by permitting some to practice allopathy just by pursuing bridge courses?” he said. “These two points in the Bill are contradictory to each other.”
Not every medical professional however is protesting the move as some see it as an initiative to enhance doctor-patient ratio in the country.
“Even MBBS doctors are not allowed to work as specialists or super specialist and have a limit to what they can do so I see no problem if doctors from other streams are given basic training in modern medicine and are permitted to work at lower levels than MBBS to treat patients at primary levels,” said Bhaibhav Kumar, a doctor in Dhanbad.
“After all they also pursue five-year courses in other forms of medicine and study physiology and anatomy like MBBS doctors.”
A few studies done in the past have in fact have shown that registered medical practitioner or AYUSH doctors have helped provide medical care in remote areas as MBBS doctors prefer urban postings.
A study carried out by New Delhi based public health research institute, Public Health Foundation of India in 2014, for instance, had highlighted that in as many as 32 per cent of primary health centres in remote and tribal areas, it is the alternative medicine practitioners who carry out clinical care.