IMA calls off strike after Bill is sent to Parl panel for review

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Union Health Minister JP Nadda in Lok Sabha.

File photo of Union Health Minister JP Nadda in Lok Sabha.

The 12-hour nation-wide strike called by doctors’ body, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), to protest a proposed legislation seeking to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new body, was called off on Tuesday after the Bill was referred to a parliamentary standing committee for review.

The committee has been asked to give its report before the Budget session of Parliament.

The Bill was referred to the committee following protest from the opposition parties as well as doctors.

The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017 which was tabled in Parliament on Friday, seeks to replace the MCI and also proposes allowing practitioners of alternative medicines, such as homoeopathy and ayurveda, practice allopathy after completing a “bridge course”.

“We called off our strike as the Bill has been referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee which has members from diverse fields and there should now be a fruitful discussion. We are thankful to all the Lok Sabha members for supporting us,” said IMA’s KK Aggarwal, who was spearheading the stir.

The IMA has been strongly opposing the NMC Bill because it believes that it will “cripple” the functioning of medical professionals by making them completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators. They protesting doctors had declared today as “Black Day”.

“The NMC Bill in the present form is not acceptable. This Bill is anti-poor, anti-people, non representative, undemocratic and anti-federal in character,” newly-appointed IMA national president Dr Ravi Wankhedkar.

“The Bill purported to eradicate corruption is designed to open the floodgates of corruption. A Bill to regulate the medical education and medical practice without the concurrence of the medical profession will be a disaster,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister JP Nadda said in Parliament that talks were on with the IMA to resolve the matter.

“Talks are on. We have heard them (the doctors) and also presented our views,” he said.

“This (Bill) is beneficial to the medical profession,” Nadda said in Rajya Sabha after the members raised the issue of strike by the doctors across the country.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had written to Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and the Union health minister demanding that the Bill be referred to a standing committee for examination.

IMA had already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union health minister urging them to redraft the Bill and rectify some of its provisions to protect the interest of medical practitioners.

(With inputs from agencies)