CHENNAI: About 35,000 doctors and 4,500 hospitals across Tamil Nadu on Saturday joined a 12-hour nation-wide strike call of Indian Medical Association (IMA) against the introduction of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.
Doctors will however attend to emergency cases, IMA secretary V Rajesh Babu, told reporters. He said that the Bill proposes to replace the present Indian Medical Council (IMC) with a 25-member NMC in which only five members would be doctors. “Only five members are elected members and the representation to the States are unequal. A member from one State can occupy the seat for two years and the same State cannot have membership for next 10 years,” he said.
The Tamil Nadu government, while calling for addressing the concerns of the association, however, said most medical services were not affected as its hospitals were working as usual. The elective surgeries and outpatient services were withdrawn between 6 am and 6 pm, while demonstrations were held in many parts of the State, J A Jayalal, president of Indian Medical Association (IMA), Tamil Nadu branch said.
He warned of intensifying the protests if the NMC Bill was passed in Parliament. The Union Health Ministry had in March approved amendments to NMC Bill, including removing the contentious provision of a “bridge course” which would allow practitioners of alternative medicines to pursue allopathy, after stiff resistance from IMA and Opposition.
The IMA had earlier said the Bill remained ‘anti-poor and anti-people’. If the bill becomes law, non-medical professionals would dominate the body and AYUSH doctors would be allowed to practice allopathy after undergoing a six-month training, which is against the ethics of the profession, he said.