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RS passes National Medical Commission Bill, rejects Opposition’s amendments on NEET

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 01, 2019 Published on August 01, 2019

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan speaking in the Rajya Sabha   -  PTI

Rejecting the DMK and Left parties’ amendments against limiting the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to the CBSE syllabus, the Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the National Medical Commission Bill, which according to the Centre, will initiate a major reform process in the healthcare and medical education sector.

The Bill will go back to the Lok Sabha as the Centre, through an official amendment, accepted the Opposition’s demand for greater representation to States in the proposed National Medical Council.

The AIADMK staged a walkout stating that the Centre is creating problems in Tamil Nadu’s medical education sector.

The Opposition’s amendments were defeated with 61 votes in favour and 106against.

Replying to the debate, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said NEET has become a widely accepted and successful system and the exam is now conducted in 13 languages. Countering the allegation that the Bill will promote quackery, he said stringent provisions to punish quacks have been added in the new Bill.

The minister also said that the Centre is regulating 50 per cent of private medical institutions’ seats. Accepting the Opposition’s suggestions for increased participation of States, he said nine members of the 25-member NMC will be from States. Effectively, 16 members will be from States.

He also added that once the NMC Bill is approved, exit examination will be implemented in the next three years and the NMC will decide the formalities of the examination. The Health Minister said a common final year MBBS exam will be treated as an entrance test for PG and a screening test for students who graduate in medicine from foreign countries.

“This exam, called the National Exit Test (NEXT), would ensure that the proposed National Medical Commission (NMC) moves away from a system of repeated inspections of infrastructure and focuses on outcomes rather than processes,” Vardhan said. He clarified that all the other examinations of the MBBS course will be conducted by the universities.

AIADMK’s Vijila Sathyananth and DMK’s Tiruchi Siva said the NEET was a burning issue in Tamil Nadu.

Sathyananth said, “Our children are forced to attempt the exam as per the CBSE syllabus. Bring a common syllabus for the country and conduct a common entrance examination. We completely oppose and reject the already institutionalised NEET in our country.”.

Student suicides

Siva said more than seven students have committed suicide in the State due to the problems in NEET and said the Centre is not just encroaching upon the powers of the States, but is also depriving them of it.

Former Health Minister and Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that the bill will allow 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practise modern medicine. “I strongly opposed this clause. You are replacing the earlier Cabinet decision of a three-and-a-half year science course (for medical practitioners) by mid-level health professionals such as nurse, and compounder. Are we making 70 per cent of population guinea pigs,” he asked.

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Published on August 01, 2019
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