The Indian Medical Association (IMA) called for a nationwide boycott of services on Wednesday after the National Medical Commission Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, to demonstrate their opposition to the bill.
“All elective and outpatient clinic services will be shut down for 24 hours on Wednesday, but emergency services will continue to function as per usual,” stated Dr Srinivas, president of the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA), at NIMS Hospital in Hyderabad.
The non-essential services, including OPDs, will be shut from 6 a.m. on Wednesday till 6 a.m. on Thursday. Emergency, casualty, ICU and related services will function normally.
"The Bill if not amended will only lead to a deterioration in the standards in medical education but will also lead to degradation of healthcare services," stated the RDA in a release.
Demonstrations and hunger strikes are being held in all states. The IMA has asked medical students to boycott classes in solidarity. The Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) and the Resident Doctors Association (RDA), AIIMS, members are wearing black badges.
Work was affected in hospitals -- both private and state run -- in Kerala following a nationwide call for strike given by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to protest against the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2019.
The medical community has opposed the bill since its initial introduction in 2017. It began after the Medical Council of India (MCI), an autonomous body which oversaw medical education in the country, was found guilty of corruption charges.
The MCI was eventually dissolved following outrage from the community. The NMC was introduced as a body which would oversee medical education, in place of the MCI. However several aspects of the NMC bill have drawn criticism.
The NMC seeks to introduce the National Exit Test (NEXT) which will function as both an exit exam for undergraduate medical education as well as the entrance exam for post-graduation courses. Students who have completed medical education outside of India would also be required to pass the NEXT before they were legally allowed to practice in the country. The bill also seeks to introduce bridge courses for non-allopathic medical practitioners and paramedical students. Upon completing the 6-month course, they can then practice in a rural healthcare centre, in a position normally filled by an allopathic doctor.
Following the introduction of the NMC Bill in 2017, a list of amendments had been submitted by doctors of the IMA, however, these changes were not made to the Bill.
The bill was passed 260-48 by a voice vote, amid a walkout by Opposition Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and the Trinamool Congress.