India's regulator of medical education | National Medical Commission comes into existence

The National Medical Commission (NMC) came into existence from Friday as the country’s apex regulator of medical education and profession replacing the Medical Council of India (MCI).

With this, the nearly 64-year-old Indian Medical Council Act stands repealed and the Board of Governors appointed in supersession of  the MCI has also been dissolved with effect from September 25, the health ministry said. 

“Historic reform in the field of medical education has been effected by the Union government with the constitution of the National Medical Commission (NMC), along with four autonomous boards,” the ministry said in a statement.

“With this, the decades-old institution of the Medical Council of India (MCI) stands abolished,” it said.   

Former head of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences ENT department here, Dr Suresh Chandra Sharma, has been appointed as chairman for a period of three years with effect from Friday, while Rakesh Kumar Vats, who was secretary general in the Board of Governors of the MCI, is the secretary of the commission, according to gazette notifications issued on Thursday.

The NMC Act, which seeks to usher in mega reforms in the medical education sector, received the assent of the president on August 8, 2019 and was published the same day.

The Act provided for setting up of an NMC in place of the scam-tainted MCI. The four autonomous boards under the NMC Act — the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (UGMEB), Post-Graduate Medical Education Board (PGMEB), Medical Assessment and Rating Board and the Ethics and Medical Registration Board — have also been constituted and comes into existence from Friday, according to the notifications.

“This historic reform will steer medical education towards a transparent, qualitative and accountable system,” the statement said.

The basic change that has happened is that the regulator is now ‘selected’ on merits, as opposed to an ‘elected’ regulator.

Men and women with impeccable integrity, professionalism, experience and stature have been now placed at the helm to steer the medical education reforms further, the ministry said.

“In pursuance of the provisions of sub-section (1) of the section 60 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956  is hereby repealed with effect from the 25th day of September, 2020.

“The Board of Governors appointed under section 3A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 in supersession of the Medical Council of India constituted under sub-section (1) of section 3 of the said Act shall stand dissolved,” one of the notifications read.

The NMC comprises a chairman, 10 ex-officio members and 22 part-time members.

The ex-officio members include presidents of the four autonomous boards.

“In pursuance of the provisions… Of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 , the central government hereby constitutes the National Medical Commission,” another notification read.

“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers…The central government hereby notifies that all the remaining provisions of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, shall come into force with effect from the 25th day of September, 2020,” another one read.

The NMC will carry forward the reforms initiated by the Board of Governors under Dr V K Paul.

Already, the number of MBBS seats has increased over the last six years by 48 per cent from around 54,000 in 2014 to 80,000 in 2020. The PG seats have increased by 79 per cent from 24000 to 54000 in the same period, the ministry said in its statement.

It said that key functions of the NMC will be further streamlining regulations, rating of institutions, HR assessment, and focus on research.

Besides, they will work on modalities of the common final year exam after MBBS (NEXT- National Exit Test) to serve for both registration and PG entrance; prepare guidelines for fee regulation by private medical colleges; and developing standards for Community Health Providers to serve in primary healthcare with limited practicing licence.

It may be recalled that the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 was passed by the Parliament in August, 2019.