“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi
The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Act, 2021 received the assent of the President of India and was notified in the Gazette of India (Extraordinary- Part 2- Section 1) on March 28, 2021. The main objective of the Act is to upgrade the norms of training and administration by allied medical professionals in India. Answering a question in a discussion on the Act, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that the enactment is pointed toward satisfying future demands for the medical field and will make an institutional set-up to upgrade the employability rate.
The Act provides guidelines for the maintenance and up-gradation of norms of education and services by allied and medical services professionals, evaluation of medico-related institutions, maintaining a central and a state register, and formation of a framework to improve innovative work selecting of most advanced technology. According to the statement of object and the reasons of the Act, the advancement in the area of Health, changing demands of buyers and service providers, had justified making of a new vision in delivering medical care with a patient-driven methodology and spotlight on moving to a multi-disciplinary approach.
The Act also lays the foundation of the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions and Councils at the State level to supervise and cater to all such requirements.
The highlights of the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Act, 2021 are as follows:
- Allied Health Professional: Includes a technician or associate, who is trained to perform any technical task for diagnosis and treatment of illness, disease, injury, or impairment, and to support the implementation of any healthcare treatment recommended by any healthcare professional, one who is qualified of diploma or degree holder under this Act, the duration of which shall not be less than two thousand hours spread over two years to four years divided into specific terms;
- Healthcare Professional: Includes a therapist, scientist, or other professionals who study, advises, supervises, researches, or provides preventive, rehabilitative, curative, or promotional health services and who is qualified degree holder under this Act, the period of which shall not be less than three thousand six hundred hours completed over three years to six years divided into different semesters;
- Allied and Healthcare Professionals: The Act indicates certain classifications of Allied and Healthcare Professionals as recognized classes. These are being mentioned in the Schedule to the Act and incorporate life science professionals, trauma and burn care professionals, surgical and anaesthesia-related technology professionals, physiotherapists, and nutrition science professionals. The central government may revise this Schedule after consultation with the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Profession.
- Public Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions: The Act sets up the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions. The Commission will comprise of: (I) the Chairperson, (ii) Vice-Chairperson, (iii) Five Members (at the rank of Joint Secretary) representing different Departments/Ministries of the central government, (iv) Three Deputy Directors or Medical Superintendents delegated on a rotational premise from among medico-institutions including the AIIMS, Delhi and AIIPMR, Mumbai, (v) One representative from the Directorate General of Health Services, and (vi) 12 contract- members from State Councils, among others.
- Functions of the Commission: The Commission will play out the accompanying roles as to Allied and Healthcare professionals: (I) outlining strategies and norms for controlling education and practice, (ii) making and keeping an online Central Register of every single enrolled professional, (iii) giving fundamental guidelines of schooling, courses, educational plan, staff capabilities, assessment, preparing maximum fees that any medico-service can levy, and (iv) accommodating a uniform passage and evaluating, among others.
- Professional Councils: The Commission will establish a Professional Council for each recognized Allied and Professional Healthcare Professionals classification. The Professional Council will comprise a president and four to 24 members from each recognized category. The Commission may designate any of its functions to this Council.
- State Councils: Within a half year from the enforcement of the Act’s provisions, the state governments will establish State Allied and Healthcare Councils. The State Councils will comprise of: (I) the Chairperson (having experience of 25 years in the field of allied and medical care science), (ii) one member representing medical sciences in the state government, (iii) two members from state medical universities, (iv) two members from charitable foundations, and (v) two members from every recognized classification of allied and healthcare professionals, designated by the state government, among others.
- Foundation of organizations: Prior authorization of the State Council will be needed to: (I) build up another establishment, or (ii) open new courses, increase the admission capacity, or admit a new batch of students to existing institutions. If such permission is not sought, any qualification granted to a student from such an institution will not be recognized under the Act.
- Offences and punishments: No person can (iv) One representative from the Directorate General of Health Services, practice as a qualified allied and healthcare practitioner other than those enrolled in a State Register or the National Register. Any individual who repudiates this provision will be rebuffed with a fine of Rs 50,000.
- Perception of offences: No court will take cognizance of any violation culpable under this Act besides upon a complaint made by any Central Government, the State Government, the Commission, or the State Council. It ousts a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate from taking cases under this law.
The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Act, 2021 is a milestone enactment in the medical care system of India. It will change the existing conditions of the medical services and govern the administration of the whole medical care framework in India, making it stronger. India is on the course of many health sector reforms. Apart from the two transformative laws enacted and referred to above, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021, has been passed during this budget session. In any case, the curve of change would be there with the authorization of the National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Act, the National Dental Commission Act, the Surrogacy Act, and the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act.