SC seeks Centre, states’ response on plea to implement National Commission for Allied & Healthcare Professions Act

by Aditya Kumar

The Joint Forum of Medical Technologists of India (JFMTI) has filed a plea in the Supreme Court, drawing attention to the non-compliance with the provisions of the National Commission for Allied & Healthcare Professions Act, 2021. The plea argues that India’s healthcare delivery system has historically been “doctor-centered” and has failed to prioritize specialization in allied health sciences.

Allied health professionals are individuals involved in the delivery of health or healthcare-related services with qualifications and competence in diagnostic, therapeutic, curative, preventive, and rehabilitative interventions. Despite playing a crucial role in the healthcare sector, there is currently no council in India specifically for allied and healthcare professionals that would establish a robust regulatory framework and act as a standard-setter and regulator for these professionals.

It is worth noting that the National Commission for Allied & Healthcare Professions (NCAHP) Act was enacted in May 2021. However, the provisions of this act have not been implemented even after two years. Instead, the central government has repeatedly extended the deadline for implementation, with five extensions granted so far.

According to the plea, the latest extension was given on May 18, 2023, specifying that State Governments and Union Territories should constitute State Allied and Healthcare Councils within two years and six months from the commencement of the NCAHP Act. The deadline for their establishment is November 25, 2023.

The JFMTI’s plea highlights the urgent need for the implementation of the NCAHP Act. It emphasizes the importance of having a regulatory framework that ensures the quality and standardization of allied healthcare services. Such a framework would not only benefit healthcare professionals but also contribute to overall patient care and safety.

Allied health professionals play a crucial role in healthcare settings, often working alongside doctors and nurses. Their specialized skills and expertise can greatly contribute to the delivery of quality healthcare services. However, the absence of a regulatory body poses challenges for these professionals, hindering their professional growth and development.

The implementation of the NCAHP Act would address these concerns and provide a systematic approach to the regulation and development of allied and healthcare professionals. It would enable the establishment of State Allied and Healthcare Councils, which would act as the governing bodies responsible for ensuring the competence, ethics, and professional conduct of allied health professionals.

The Supreme Court’s involvement in this matter is significant as it shows that the judiciary recognizes the importance of addressing the issues raised by the JFMTI’s plea. By asking the Attorney General to depute an Additional Solicitor General to assist the court, the bench demonstrates its commitment to resolving this matter in a fair and just manner.

It is now imperative for the central government to take immediate action to implement the provisions of the NCAHP Act. This would not only fulfill its obligations but also contribute to the growth and development of the allied health sector in India. By prioritizing allied health professionals and ensuring a regulatory framework is in place, India can enhance its healthcare delivery system and provide quality care to its citizens.

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