NITI Aayog panel suggests regulatory reforms in medical education

A NITI Aayog committee appointed by the government to examine options for reforms in the Medical Council of India and suggest the way forward, has submitted a preliminary report suggesting a strengthening of the regulatory framework and also permitting even 'for-profit' organisations to establish medical colleges.

The committee has submitted its preliminary report, which also includes a draft bill to replace the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, to the union health ministry.

The draft bill proposed stronger regulatory framework and the appointment of professionals with highest standards of professional integrity and excellence through an independent and a transparent selection process by a broad-based search-cum-selection committee.

It has suggested a rejig of the institutional architecture for regulation, including the setting up of a Medical Advisory Council (MAC) having representation from the states and union territories to articulate the national agenda for medical education besides the National Medical Commission (NMC), which is to serve as the policy-making body for medical education.

The committee has suggested the formation of four autonomous boards to look after under graduate medical education, post-graduate medical education, medical assessment and rating and registration of doctors and hospitals and the issue of medical ethics.

The panel felt that the input based regulatory philosophy underlying the current Medical Council of India (MCI) has turned into a high entry barrier, the NMC regulation is to be overwhelmingly based on outcomes rather than inputs.

The committee has proposed periodic publication of ratings of medical institutions.

The committee has also proposed that NMC should be empowered to fix norms for regulating fees for a proportion of seats in private medical colleges while allowing the promoters to fix the fees for the remainder of seats transparently.

No fees other than clearly announced on the website of the college should be permitted.

The committee proposes to provide a statutory basis for common entrance examination for admissions to under-graduate and post-graduate courses in medical institutions and a common licentiate examination for practice by medical professionals after completion of the undergraduate medical degree.

In view of widespread criticism of the workings of the Medical Council of India, included in the 92nd report of the department-related parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare, presented to the Rajya Sabha on 8 March 2016, the government appointed a committee under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog vice chairman.

The panel included additional principal secretary to prime minister, CEO of NITI Aayog and secretary in the department of Health and family welfare as members.