In an unprecedented move, a Parliamentary panel has rejected the bill to set up an overarching regulator for India's health sector and asked the Health Ministry to draft a new legislation that addresses the apprehensions raised by states and other stakeholders.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare has objected to the fact that the proposed regulator in the bill neither provides any representation to state governments despite health being a state subject nor does it provide for elections to appoint members of the regulator.
The Committee has also asked the Health Ministry to include medical research (currently covered by Higher Education and Research Bill 2011 of the HRD Ministry) under the proposed medical regulator.
"The Bill cannot be recommended in the present form. We recommend to the Ministry to withdraw the Bill and bring forward a fresh bill after sufficiently addressing all the views and concerns expressed by stakeholders," the panel said
in its report on the 'National Commission for Human Resources for Health Bill 2011' (NCHRH Bill).
The NCHRH Bill, introduced in Rajya Sabha on December 22 last year, was forwarded to the panel for consideration.
The Bill rejected by the Committee seeks to dissolve the four existing health regulators ¿- the Medical Council of India, the Dental Council of India, the Pharmacy Council of India and the Nursing Council of India -- by repealing the parent Acts under which these bodies were set up.
The idea behind the Bill is to create an overarching National Commission for Human Resources for Health which would then have all the power to approve new medical institutions and courses.
Under the Bill, the proposed Commission suggested of setting up three constituent bodies -- the National Board of Health Education, the National Evaluation and Assessment Committee and the National Councils like the MCI, the DCI and the PCI.
The Parliamentary Committee, however, has taken note of the concerns expressed by representatives of the existing regulating councils who claimed their role under the new law had been relegated to merely maintenance of medical registers.
"We note the concerns expressed by Councils that their autonomy and democratic setup have been taken over under the bill. We feel these apprehensions need to be appropriately addressed by the government. Also the concern that there is no element of election in the composition of the commission and its constituents also needs to be addressed. This part has been objected to by the states also,"