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IMA calls strike today against the passage of NMC Bill

New Delhi: The IMA has given a call for a 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services across the country to protest the passage of the National Medical Commission Bill, which seeks to replace the graft-tainted Medical Council of India, saying it is "anti-poor, anti-student and anti-democratic".

Emergency, casualty, ICU and other related services will remain unaffected.

The Indian Medical Association, the largest body of doctors and students in the country with around three lakh members, has called for demonstrations and hunger strikes at its local branches and urged medical students to boycott classes and proclaim solidarity with IMA.

It warned in a statement it will intensify agitation if the government continues to be "indifferent to their concerns".

Meanwhile, doctors associated with the Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA) and Resident Doctors' Association at AIIMS showed up to work wearing black badges as a mark of protest.

The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday as thousands of doctors protested across the country against it. The bill provides for setting up of a National Medical Commission in place of MCI for development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions.

The medical fraternity is anguished that the health minister, a surgeon, instead of including key recommendations made by the Parliament Standing Committee, replaced many provisions with clauses detrimental to the doctors' community. The fraternity claims the bill will encourage quackery.

The IMA rejects the bill and its protest will continue, Santanu Sen, national president of IMA, said.

"Section 32 of the NMC Bill provides for licensing of 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practice modern medicine. The term community health provider has been vaguely defined to allow anyone connected with modern medicine to get registered in NMC and be licensed to practice modern medicine.

"This will only legalise quackery and endanger the lives of people," R V Ashokan, IMA secretary general, said.

On Tuesday, representatives of FORDA and AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association held an emergency meeting to decide the course of action against the "undemocratic and non-federal" bill. They said they agreed to oppose the bill in its current form.

They demanded that the government incorporate certain amendments in the interest of people, and said if not amended, the bill will lead to deterioration of medical education and degradation of healthcare services.

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