In keeping with the provisions of the National Medical Commission Act 2019, the National Medical Commission, an overarching body, is all set to launch this month. Business Today has learnt that the process is currently on to fill the key positions required under the new structure. Among these, two major appointments were made public on Thursday. Professor Suresh Chandra Sharma, the head of ENT head-neck surgery at AIIMS, Delhi, was appointed as the Chairman of the National Medical Commission, while Rakesh Kumar Vats, the Secretary General of the Board of Governors, was appointed as the Secretary of the Commission. However, it is still not clear when they'll take charge in their new role.
Two years back on January 1, 2018, healthcare professionals rang in the New Year, debating implications of the National Medical Commission Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha.
In 20 months, the bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and received the Presidential assent. The Act is now in force, and a board of governors was set up last year to perform the duties of the Medical Council of India. It is chaired by Dr Vinod K Paul, member of government think tank NITI Aayog.
On the progress on setting up the new structure, Dr Paul told Business Today: "The structure of the commission comprises a chairman, four presidents and two full-time members. These appointments are being made. These are all full-time ACC (Appointments Committee of the Cabinet) appointments. After these (appointments) are made, the commission will be launched and (it'll) replace the Medical Council of India... we expect this to happen this month."
On forming the rules that may be required, he said: "The Act is already in force and some rules have already been framed. More will be framed as the time comes."
Those who have tracked the evolution of reforms in the medical education in India, requesting anonymity, say, "If done in good faith, it will work quite well. It has done a very important thing of completely separating the three functions the Medical Council was doing earlier - accreditation; syllabus and curriculum; and medical ethics. If allowed to function separately, led by well-qualified men and women, these bodies will do their tasks well."
The National Medical Commission is an overarching body that'll frame policies and co-ordinate the activities of four autonomous boards. The appointment of independent board members, whose roles are crucial, will be keenly watched. Each board will separately look at undergraduate and postgraduate education, medical assessment and rating, and ethics & medical registration.
The impact of some provisions of the Act and their implementation will also be analysed closely. For instance, some of its much talked about provisions include converting the final year examination into a nationwide exit test called NEXT, and in sync with the kind of test done at the time of admission. Today, there is a common entrance examination for MBBS (called NEET). Similarly, other provisions such as those relating to the regulation of fees and registration of community health providers will also be watched closely.