Govt plans to let NRI docs practise in India, IMA voices caution

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SummaryWith the rejection of the proposal to enact the National Commission for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) Bill, the Health Ministry is now planning to amend the MCI Act

With the rejection of the proposal to enact the National Commission for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) Bill, the Health Ministry is now planning to amend the MCI Act to allow overseas Indian doctors to practice in India. The provision to enable Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders to practise in India was part of NCHRM proposal, which was nixed by the parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare.

The ministry was earlier in the process of setting up a website where NRI doctors willing to serve in India could register. However, with the Bill’s rejection, the Medical Council of India (MCI) is unlikely to be out of the regulation scene anytime soon.

“NRI doctors are only allowed to work in India for teaching, research and charitable purposes, that too in select institutions and with MCI permission ...We are working on an amendment of the MCI Act. But if doctors can bypass the MCI screening test will have to be looked at on a case-to-case basis,” said a senior ministryofficial.

Ministry sources said the amendments will be soon sent for Cabinet nod so that it can be tabled in the Budget session. Currently only medical postgraduates from the USA, the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are exempted from appearing for the foreign medical graduates screening test.

Dr D R Rai, the Indian Medical Association president, said a move to allow OCI doctors here is possible only with countries with whom India has a reciprocity arrangement. “That is we recognise their degrees and they ours. If the plan is to give them a free run without the screening test, that will ruin the health system,” he said.

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