IMA protests over National Medical Commission Bill hits healthcare services in Kerala

Healthcare facilities at multiple hospitals across the country have been disrupted Tuesday after thousands of doctors went on a 12-hour strike, in protest against the National Medical Commission Bill.

Healthcare services at many private hospitals in the country are expected to be hit due to the shutdown.

The NMC Bill was tabled in Parliament on Friday and seeks to replace MCI (Medical Council of India) and also allows practitioners of alternative medicines, such as homoeopathy and ayurveda, to practise allopathy after completing a "bridge course".

The protests come at a time when the Bill might be taken up for discussion in Parliament, later on Tuesday. Talking to Chronicle Pharmabiz after the meeting, IMA Secretary General Dr RN Tandon said the Bill would cripple the functioning of medical professionals by making them completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators.

While services at government hospitals will not be affected, the doctors will observe a "Black Day" and wear black arm bands as they see patients. In Delhi, hospitals will not be shut but doctors can participate and decide to resume their duties in later hours of the day.

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Protests were held by doctors in the national capital as well.

Dr Vivek Chouksey, President Federation of Resident Doctors Association, said, "It is a bill that the politicians are trying to push through and we are against it but we also don't want patients to suffer".

He said the IMA has made a decision to submit a memorandum against the bill to elected representatives including Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar tomorrow. To register its protest, the association urged its 2.9 lakh members to participate in the strike from 6 am to 6 pm on Tuesday.

"The Bill paves the way for corruption as it removes all regulations for setting up a medical college".

However, he said doctors would attend to emergency cases. For instance, colleges will be allowed to start post-graduate courses and increase intake of students all on their own - without seeking permission from the NMC.

  • Megan Austin