IMA calls strike on Aug 8 to protest against NMC Bill

Patients stranded outside the OPD at All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Saturday. Medical services were hit heavily as the RDA went on strike against the NMC Bill. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has given a call for withdrawal of services in healthcare facilities across the country on August 8 to protest against certain provisions of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.

The IMA said the core concern of the medical fraternity has been left unaddressed in the NMC Bill.

“The call is for all the modern medicine doctors to leave their work place across the sectors at all levels on August 8 from 6 AM to 6 AM (next day),” it said, adding that medical students under IMA- Medical Student Network will continue their strike across the country.

The decision was taken at an emergency Extended Action Committee meeting convened at the IMA headquarters on Monday.

The doctors’ body has also called for demonstrations and hunger strikes at its local branches and urged medical students to boycott classes and proclaim solidarity with the IMA.

Members of the AIIMS Students’ Union staged a protest in front of the institute and boycotted all academic activities on Monday.

“The NMC bill in its current form has some provisions that need to be amended before its enactment. The most pressing issues are the uncertainty over NEXT, and the regulation of community health practitioners and over centralisation of healthcare by the government. These are issues which affect both the medical fraternity and its students, as well as the public at large,” AIIMS SU said in a statement.

“Hence, the students have decided to boycott all academic activities and gather for mass demonstrations against poorly framed anti-public health NMC Bill,” it added.

On Sunday, resident doctors of AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital had called off their strike and resumed duties after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan assured them that their concerns over the NMC Bill will be duly addressed.

The doctors had been demonstrating against certain provisions of the bill since its passage in Rajya Sabha last week.

“The NMC Bill 2019 is unacceptable to the medical fraternity in the current format. The community health providers envisaged in the bill is a direct threat to thousands and thousands of poor vulnerable marginalised rural patients. The health of the nation is at stake. We demand that the government of India engage the modern medical fraternity on meaningful dialogue and address the issue urgently,” the IMA said.

The bill provides for setting up of a National Medical Commission in place of the MCI for development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions.

Doctors are demanding certain amendments in the bill. According to them, if not amended, the bill will lead to deterioration of medical education and degradation of healthcare services.

The fraternity was opposing section 32(1), (2) and (3) of the bill, saying it will encourage quackery by providing licence to practice modern medicine as community health providers for persons other than those possessing MBBS degrees.

The doctors said there was no clarity over the introduction of NEXT and scrapping the NEET-PG.

They are also opposing decreasing the percentage of seats under controlled fees structure in private medical colleges and deemed universities from 85 to 50 per cent, reducing the representation of elected members from 75 per cent in MCI to 20 per cent in the National Medical Commission and autonomous boards constituted there-under.

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