Posted in Legislative Analysis, Political Institutions on Sep 04, 2019

The Myanmar Medical Council Law aims to provide quality healthcare to all residents of the country, and to empower medical practitioners with medical knowledge and high healthcare standards.

Recommendations

This amendment bill has increased the number of council members to 16 in the Executive Committee (EC). In the original law, the council member number is 10, 7 of which will be selected by Medical Council (MC) members and the rest by the MC chair. However, it is unclear how council members will be selected for the EC, in light of the increase in the number of members.

Next, article 30 of the amendment bill adds the power for MC to consider reapplications from medical practitioners for registration certificates after they have been revoked. Although the bill includes a process of reapplying for registration, it does not create any appeal process against the original decision to revoke the certificate.

Revoking registration forbids the former certificate-holder from practicing their medical profession. One of the reasons for revoking registration, “the violation of the medical practitioner’s ethics”, is a delicate matter whose inappropriate application has potential to inflict harm on the reputation of medical practitioners. And ‘ethics’ is loosely defined and open to interpretation depending on the individual social and cultural standpoint of the council member. The law does little to clarify how this term should be applied.

Before amending the original law, the principles and rules of procedure concerning revocation of registration certificates by the MC should be reconsidered. As a general principle for all good laws, avenues of redress must be created so that medical practitioners can appeal such decisions to a higher authority, perhaps to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS), and beyond that in the courts.

Another article in the original law concerns revocation of the Medical Practitioner Licence. Although the majority of the MC members are selected by medical practitioners, the reason for revoking licences relating to ethics can provoke different views and is ultimately connected with the citizen’s individual rights and freedoms of expression. Instead of giving the final say to the Medical Council, the bill should incorporate an amendment clause that is more open to appeal to the MoHS and the court. If so, the victims of unjust decisions will have more options to readdress grievances. (also see one of the examples where Medical Practitioner Licence was revoked due to the violation of the ethics https://theananda.org/en/blog/view/nms-med-council)

Only when the amendment process is combined with proper analysis and gathering different perspectives through consultation, can we consider the best ways maintain and promote medical practitioners’ dignity, ensure ethical practice and uphold the honour of the profession. These stated objectives of the law are as yet unfulfilled by this series of amendments.

Medical Registration and Licensing – what’s the difference?

In many countries, including Myanmar, doctors need to be both registered and to hold a licence in order to legally practice medicine.

Registration – describes the process of entering the name of medical practitioner on a list. The register will include their qualifications and what their licence allows them to practice. A doctor without a licence to practice can be listed on the register.

Licence – a medical licence shows that a medical practitioner is qualified and current (up to date) and permits them to practice medicine. A licence may include the types of medicine they are able to practice (eg surgeon, anesthetist etc), and will likely be time-limited to reflect the fact that advances in medicine mean doctors need to keep up to date with current practices.