New Delhi: Addressing the media on the National Medical Commission Bill, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan refuted all ‘misconceptions’ around the Bill and assured that punishment for quackery has been made more severe than before.

“A misconception is being spread that the provision for community health providers have been made to legalize quacks. On the contrary, punishment for quackery has been enhanced to up to 1-year imprisonment and up to ₹5 lakhs fine,” he said.

In 2016, a WHO report on the health sector in India stated that as many as 57.3 per cent practising allopathy doctors do not have relevant medicine education.

According to the same WHO report, barely 20 per cent of those who practice medicine in India have a proper qualification. It further read that 31 per cent of those who called themselves allopathic doctors were actually just educated till Class 12.

Healthcare services at government hospitals, including AIIMS, were severely hit last week as resident doctors withdrew all services including emergency services in protest against the Bill which they said will encourage quacks.

The Indian Medical Association also termed the Bill “draconian” and “anti-people”.  It has raised concern over Section 32 of the NMC Bill that provides for licensing of 3.5 lakh non-medical persons or Community Health Providers to practise modern medicine.