The Indian Medical Association has called a 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services at hospitals across the country on Wednesday in protest against the Lok Sabha’s decision to pass National Medical Commission Bill, 2019, ANI reported. The protest will begin at 6 am.

The bill was passed in the Lower House on Monday. It seeks to regulate medical education and practices in India. The bill also seeks to replace Medical Council of India, the regulatory body for medical education in the country, with National Medical Commission and introduce a common final year MBBS examination – the national exit test – for admission to postgraduate medical courses and for obtaining licence to practise medicine, according to The Hindu.

Outpatient departments at government hospitals across the country will remain shut, IANS reported. The Indian Medical Association asked medical students to boycott classes in solidarity with its protest programme.

The Federation of Resident Doctors Association and the Resident Doctors Association at All India Institute of Medical Sciences have asked members to wear black badges as a mark of protest. “The bill if not amended will only lead to a deterioration in the standards in medical education but will also lead to degradation of healthcare services,” the Resident Doctors Association said.

“Section 32 of the NMC Bill provides for licensing of 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practise modern medicine,” said Secretary General of the Indian Medical Association RV Asokan. “The term ‘community health provider’ has been vaguely defined to allow anyone connected with modern medicine to get registered in the NMC [National Medical Commission] and be licensed to practise modern medicine.”

More than 5,000 doctors, medical students and healthcare professionals across India staged a protest against the bill on Monday following a call issued by the medical body. In New Delhi, a march was held from AIIMS to Nirman Bhawan.