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Draw of lots on Oct 14 to elect NMC members: Harsh Vardhan

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(Eds: adding more details) New Delhi, Oct 4 (PTI) A draw of lots will be held on October 14 to select members of the National Medical Commission (NMC) from the nominations sent by the state governments, UTs and State Medical Councils, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday. Once the NMC comes into being, the Medical Council of India (MCI) will automatically get dissolved and the nearly 63-year-old Indian Medical Council Act will stand abolished. The entire process of constituting the National Medical Commission will be transparent and media persons will be invited to participate to the lottery, Vardhan said. The government in 2017 superseded the MCI and appointed a Board of Governors (BoG) to perform its functions. The NMC Act, which seeks to usher in mega reforms in the medical education sector, received the assent of the President on August 8 and was published the same day. The Act provides for setting up of an NMC in place of the Medical Council of India for development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions. Several relevant sections of the Act came into force on September 2, after which the Health Ministry on August 9 wrote to to all chief secretaries, home secretary (in UTs) and State Medical Councils, seeking nominations for selection of members to set up a Medical Advisory Council (MAC). "The MAC will be the larger body having representatives from all state governments and state medical councils will be notified before October 14 and the draw of lots will be held from the nominees of states and UTs in the Medical Advisory Council," Vardhan said. Seventy-two applications for NMC have been received. Twenty-two State Medical Council nominations, and 23 VC nominations for the MAC have been received. In the meantime, the Board of Governors (MCI) has been requested to prepare draft guidelines for fee regulation, so that they can be used as a base document by NMC, said Additional Secretary in the Health Ministry Arun Singhal. Vardhan also informed that the common national entrance test NEET which will be applicable to institutes of national importance like AIIMS will come into force from the next academic year. "This will help set common standards in medical education sector in the country," he said. The NMC Act proposes a common final year MBBS exam, to be known as National Exit Test (NEXT), for admission to post-graduate medical courses and for obtaining licence to practice. It would also act as a screening test for foreign medical graduates, official sources said. NEXT results would be the base for admission to PG courses and to obtain licence to practice. It would also act as a screening test for foreign medical graduates. Regulations to operationalise NEXT would be made in due course, keeping in mind importance of both theoretical as well as clinical skill sets required at the level of UG. There is a 3-year window before NEXT becomes operational, leaving ample scope for detailed negotiations on the contours of the exam, the ministry earlier had said. The National Medical Commission will also regulated fees and all other charges in 50 per cent seats in private colleges as well as deemed-to-be universities. Efforts will be initiated to enforce fee regulation from next academic year, an official said. Nearly 50 per cent of the total MBBS seats in the country are in government colleges, which have nominal fees. Of the remaining seats, 50 per cent would be regulated by NMC. This means that almost 75 per cent of total seats in the country would be available at reasonable fees, Vardhan had earlier said. There was no provision to regulate fees in the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. According to the NMC Act, the Medical Assessment and Rating Board will assess medical colleges and develop a ranking system for them which would enable students choose their institutes in a much more informed manner. These measures will ensure a transparent admission process and also bring down admission fee, an official said. Dismissing fears about NMC being dominated by Central nominees, Vardhan had said there will be 10 vice-chancellors of state health universities and nine elected members of state medical councils in the NMC. "Thus 19 out of 33 members, which is more than half of the total strength, would be from states and only a minority of members will be appointed by the central government thereby ensuring NMC is representative, inclusive and respecting the federal structure of Indian polity," he had said. The NMC will have eminent medical personalities as members who will be appointed for only one term of four years and will not be eligible for any further extension. "They will have to declare their assets at the time of being appointed and again while demitting office," Vardhan had said. The members will also have to declare their professional and commercial engagement or involvement which will be published on the website of the Commission. PTI PLB IJT

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