Kerala doctors observe strike against Centres' bill

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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.

In Kerala, while the doctors at the state-run medical colleges chose to keep away from the Out Patient Department for an hour from 8:00 am-9:00 am and at the state-run hospitals from 9:00-10:00 am, in many private hospitals the protests would continue till 6:00 pm. However, emergency and critical services would continue.

The NMC Bill 2017 will replace the Medical Council of India (MCI), that has been in controversy over several allegations of corruption.

Bill, which was tabled at the Indian parliament last week, is likely to come up for discussion on Tuesday. The Ministry has also sought a compliance report from the hospitals. "Moreover the new norms will allow any foreign doctor to practice in India without any restriction as it does away with the screening test for foreign medical graduates", he said.

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After the new bill, private colleges will no longer need permission to increase number of seats in undergraduate and postgraduate seats as they would be able do that on their own.

"The joint sitting, may, by an affirmative vote of all members present and voting, decide on approving specific bridge course that may be introduced for the practitioners of Homeopathy and of Indian Systems of Medicine to enable them to prescribe such modern medicine at such level as may be prescribed", according to the Bill.

"We want the central government to reconsider the National Medical Commission Bill. A bill to regulate the medical education and medical practice without the concurrence of the medical profession will be a disaster", said a statement from the association.

"The NMC Bill will affect the medical profession as nearly 80 percent members in the medical body will be nominated by the government, and only 10-20 percent will be the elected members. Abolishing a democratic institution and replacing it with a body in which a majority is nominated by the government, is certainly a retrograde step", Dr K K Aggarwal said.