The Travancore – Cochin Council of Modern Medicine
Regulation and Promotion of standards of Medical practitioners has been in existence for several years. Councils to safe guard the ethics of Medical Practice are in existence in all countries and in the various states.
In India, the Medical Council of India was established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933, now repealed, with the main function of establishing uniform standards of higher qualifications in medicine and recognition of medical qualifications in India and abroad. The number of medical colleges had increased steadily during the years after Independence. It was felt that the provisions of Indian Medical Council Act were not adequate to meet with the challenges posed by the very fast development and the progress of medical education in the country. As a result, in 1956, the old Act was repealed and a new one was enacted. This was further modified in 1964, 1993 and 2001. The objectives of the Council are as follows.
1. Maintenance of uniform standards of medical education, both undergraduate and postgraduate.
2. Recommendation for recognition/de-recognition of medical qualifications of medical institutions of India or foreign countries.
3. Permanent registration/provisional registration of doctors with recognised medical qualifications,
4. Reciprocity with foreign countries in the matter of mutual recognition of medical qualifications.
The mandate of maintaining high standards of practice however rests with the states as health is primarily a state subject.
In the State of Kerala, the first initiative to set up a council was taken by the H.H., the Maharaja of Travancore, in 1944. The Travancore medical practitioners’ bill was discussed in the Legislature and formally passed as an act by H.H the Maharaja of Travancore on 1st Chingam 1119 (Corresponding to 17th August 1943) as Act No.VII of 1119. The Travancore Medical Council comprising of seventeen members from various disciplines viz. Allopathy, Ayurveda, Siddhavaidhya, Unani and Homeopathy was formed under this Act. The Act was named the Travancore Medical Practitioners’ Act.
The first meeting of the Travancore Medical Council formed under the Medical practitioners’ Act, 1119, was held at Bhaktivilas on June 12th, 1944. The Council included representatives of the various systems of Medicine in vogue in the State, such as Allopathy, Ayurveda, Siddha vaidhya, Unani and Homeopathy.
Sachivottama, Sir, C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar, Dewan of Travancore inaugurating the council said thus: “This Medical Council has been brought in to existence for two or three definite purpose. I do not wish to utter any truisms, but I may say that you have before you the very important task of trying to preserve high standards and to prevent charlatanism and fraud of all kinds. The work is difficult and delicate, and it has been the idea of this Council to do what has not been so adequately or so fully attempted in many other localities, and to try and bring in to a common programme the practitioners of many different systems of medicine. Such systems have got profound divergences both of doctrine and of practice, but the idea underlying the minds of the legislators and certainly the mind of the Government was that however different may be the sources of inspiration for these systems of medicine, and however much they may differ as to their methods and conceptions, yet, every system is vitally concerned in seeing that those practising that system use the best methods they can within the limits set by that system, and in accordance with the principles and doctrines of that system so that it might be open to the practitioner of any system to claim that he is not there as a fraud or a charlatan but that steps have been taken to ensure that the doctrine which he wishes to bring into operation are those well recognised by a body of qualified experts. I am sure that this Medical Council will bear these principles in mind. It may be difficult always to reconcile divergent points of view because the root ideas of some of the systems of medicine are either really or apparently so contrary to one another. But we are here concerned only with professional standards, professional integrity and the maintenance of those standards and that integrity, and I wish you all success in your endeavours.
There are certain other matters on which I may, after, you have begun to work, meet you again for the purpose of getting your opinions. As a matter of fact, in all matters that concern the practice of medicine, the maintenance of standards of that practice, the dispensing of medicines and the way in which all attempts at fraud and undue advertisements are sought to be curtailed, the Government are very largely to be guided by what you say. Indeed I consider that Government’s function will be mainly to follow your recommendations. Bearing that in mind, I trust that you will go on with the work with which you have been charged under the Act of the Legislature. If there is any matter of importance on which you would like Government as such to give you any assistance, I should be very glad either at this meeting or subsequent meeting to be told of your ideas or doubts in any particular direction, and I assure you that it will be the desire of this Government to accede to your wishes as far as it lies in them to do so”.
The first President of the Travancore Council was Dr. S. John, the then Surgeon General. In this first address to the council he outlined the following facts.
(1) The primary responsibility of the council is to try to preserve high standards in practice and to prevent charlatanism and fraud of all kinds.
(2) The various systems of medical practice though diverse in doctrines and sources of inspiration, the Government and the Legislature feel that every system is vitally concerned in seeing that the best methods are used in practicing their system.
(3) The Medical Council was compared with the Bar Council and is intended solely to safeguard best practice. On the other hand the Indian Medical Council and other national councils are primarily concerned with maintaining standards of education and practice is covered in only one section of the Act.
(4) The Government have supported the more organised Allopathic system with large funds and grants, it intends to promote high standards of practice and re-organise the other systems of medicine in a similar manner.
(5) The Council maintains the registers with the names and addresses of the practitioners and their qualifications and each system shall maintain separate registers. Registration confers a seal of authority for the practitioners.
(6) The social interest in registration of Medical practice was highlighted as the most important objective of the Act and the Council.
In 1953, the Travancore Act was repealed by the Travancore-Cochin Medical Practitioners’ Act 1953 (Act IX of 1953). In principle, the TC Medical Practitioners’ Act adopted all that was included in the original Act. Amendments in definitions and Constitution of the council were included.
Upon the reorganisation of the State of Kerala, the Travancore – Cochin Medical Practitioners’ Act has been adopted by the Adaptation of Laws Order,1956 which also provides for the deemed registration of the modern medicine practitioners registered under the Madras Medical Registration Act 1914 in the district of Malabar or the Kasaragode Taluk immediately before the first day of November, 1956.Thus after the Kerala State was reorganised, the Act of 1953 is binding to all modern medicine practitioners in the State of Kerala .
The Council of Modern Medicine is one among the three councils constituted Under the Travancore – Cochin Medical Practitioners’ Act 1953.