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Last Updated : Jan 02, 2018 08:24 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Apprehensive about ayurvedic doctors practicing allopathy: Dr Devi Shetty

Talking about the controversial National Medical Commission Bill, which was taken up by Parliament on Tuesday and referred to a parliamentary committee, Narayana Hrudalaya founder Dr Devi Prasad Shetty expressed concern about allowing aryuvedic doctors to practice allopathy.

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Talking about the controversial National Medical Commission Bill, which was taken up by Parliament on Tuesday and referred to a parliamentary committee, Narayana Hrudalaya founder Dr Devi Prasad Shetty expressed concern about allowing aryuvedic doctors to practice allopathy.

"If they are allowed to prescribe some few basic drugs which is required to be given at a primary health centre in remote locations, I have absolutely no problems," he told CNBC-TV18 in an interview.

Dr Shetty said most components of the National Medical Commission Bill are progressive.

The Narayana Health Chairman also said that medical councils should not be dominated by doctors.

The National Medical Commission Bill aims to eliminate the Medical Council of India (MCI). Doctors across the country are protesting  against the bill.

Below is a full transcript of the interview.

Ekta: If you could start by giving us your broad comments on what exactly do you think about the Medical Commission Bill and we now have news coming in that there will be a report which will now be submitted by the by the Budget session on it. So I do not think it is going to be debated in the parliament today.

A: The National Medical Commission Bill is essentially a new body which will replace the existing Medical Council with 25 member representatives. Most of them are doctors. Obviously, as a doctor practicing in India, I am also a bit apprehensive about some component, especially allowing the alternative medicine specialists to practice allopathy. I know it is not the intention of the government, but it has been somehow interpreted by quite a few of us as something which has to be clarified. So this is one of the main reasons why doctors are unhappy. Even I am very unhappy with that part. But most of the components of the commission is progressive and we need to change. We need to look at how do we produce millions of doctors what is required for our country.

Nigel: So what you are trying to say is that without those amendments that you are suggesting, you do not think the bill should go through? What is the likelihood of it going through in the current form?

A: I am not really looking at amendments, I am looking at the clarification from the government that ayurvedic doctors are not allowed to become allopathic doctors. This the only thing. If they are allowed to prescribe some few basic drugs which is required to be given at a primary health centre in remote locations, I have absolutely no problems.

Ekta: So the biggest point of contention for you is that for example, the Ayruveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) doctors, they should not be allowed to do a bridge course and then be allowed to practice modern medicine or allopathy. That is the key clause which you think is the most contentious in this?

A: Yes, it is a clause. They need to undergo a bridge course even to prescribe a few basic drugs. They need to undergo, but not to become allopathic doctors. But that was not the intention. I do not think anybody can imagine an ayurvedic doctor doing procedure like an allopathic doctor, even with a bridge course.

Ekta: In your interaction with government officials and maybe the president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) etc. do you think that this clause will probably be rectified because there are some people who actually support it and say that the rural areas probably need more ayurvedic doctors and more doctors to practice regular medicine because general practitioners like yourself, do not venture into rural areas and hence there is underpenetration there?

A: If we have a sufficient number of doctors with allopathy practice, they are the ideal people to deliver healthcare in any part of the country. But unfortunately, we are short of two million doctors and it is very expensive and very difficult to produce that many doctors in short notice. It is not possible. So, next alternative is to empower somebody who has undergone a structure training programme may not be in our line, but give them a bridge course to prescribe some basic drugs for primary care ¬– I am only talking about primary care – and if that is the intention, it is okay. But if the intention is to convert all the ayurvedic doctors as allopathic doctors like anybody else, that is unacceptable.

Ekta: That is one point. The other thing is that it also proposes abolishing the Medical Council of India and setting up another department for that which would include non-medical representation as well. Do you think that is a fair clause?

A: Across the world, in all the developed countries, the various councils governing medical practices have representatives from the civil society. It cannot be entirely 100 percent dominated by the doctors. In this body which is proposed, majority of them, other than three or four members, all the others are doctors, that too senior doctors who have reached some eminence. So it is not that it is a body which is totally made up of non-doctors controlling it.

Ekta: There is some contention with regards to the education part of it as well. We understand that there is going to be a final exam which is going to be taken by all MBBS doctors after they have passed their final exam already or licentiate exam if I am not mistaken. That seems to be a point of contention as well that we have already passed our final MBBS exam, why do we have one more final exam, after that? Do you think that is a fair clause considering that you are a well-qualified and well-entrenched surgeon as well?

A: All the graduating doctors of today are taking the exam. It is not called as an exit exam. It is called as National Eligibility cum Entrance Exam (NEET) for post graduate entrance exam. Essentially, instead of them appearing for two separate exams, for the post graduate admission, the test, this is one test which is like an exit exam. At the same time, it is will decide who is eligible to get post graduate seat. So no new exam has been added.

Ekta: So do you think that if this bill goes through without the clause of AYUSH doctors having that bridge course and starting to practice allopathy, would the IMA be okay with it if that clause is rectified?

A: I cannot speak on behalf of the IMA, but IMA definitely has a genuine apprehension and I expect the government to clarify it.
First Published on Jan 2, 2018 04:33 pm

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