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Cabinet okays Bill to replace Medical Council of India

Cabinet okays Bill to replace Medical Council of India
The Union cabinet has approved a bill to replace the much criticised medical education regulator Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new commission to ensure transparency and reform.The National Medical Council Bill, 2016 will be tabled in Parliament in the current session, law and justice minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a briefing shortly after the cabinet meeting on Friday
The draft bill, proposed by a fou rmember Niti Aayog committee in 2016, was modified by a Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted to relook it in July 2017. It has been awaiting approval for some three months. MCI has long been criticised for rampant corruption and a lack of accountability which, according to a parliamentary standing committee report on health last year, would lead to great social, financial and political cost if unchecked. "The MCI as the regulator of medical education in the country has repeatedly failed on all its mandates over the decades," it had said.
The National Medical Council Bill provides for a 25-member National Medial Commission (NMC) to regulate medical education in the country, with four separate boards overseeing functions like undergraduate and postgraduate courses, registration and ethics enforcement in the profession. Compared to MCI —  a primarily elected body with nominees from the state or centre —NMC will have a "hybrid structure" with a few non-medical members and primacy for selected members, a senior government official said.
At least 16 and up to 22 of its members would be medical professionals and all selected members would be finalised by a search committee chaired by the cabinet secretary, the official told ET.The bill also envisages a government-constituted 64-member Medical Advisory Council, which would act as the primary platform for states to give views and raise concerns related to medical education.
NMC has been empowered to frame guidelines to determine the fees for up to 40% of the seats in private colleges and deemed universities, said the official. This would give all "meritorious" students access to medical seats irrespective of financial status, the person said. MCI did not have any power to prescribe fees.
The bill, which would replace the Medical Council Act of 1956, is expected to end "heavy handed" regulatory control over medical education institutions and would signal a shift towards outcome-based monitoring, said the official.
Monetary penalty under the NMC is defined as up to 10 times the annual tuition fee, whereas MCI would refuse renewal permission and admission in case institutions did not meet requirements. NMC also cuts down on the number of permissions needed to start and recognise undergraduate and post graduate courses.
The bill also expects to open up the medical education sector, leading to significant addition in the number of undergraduate and postgraduate seats and enable "substantial" new investment in the infrastructure sector, the official said.
The  Economic Times, New Delhi, 16th December 2017

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