Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Health rot is much deeper

http://epaper.mailtoday.in/showtext.aspx?boxid=224014109&parentid=68676&issuedate=762012

Health rot is much deeper
CORRUPTION in medical councils, ‘ cut’ system in drugs and diagnostics, overpricing of medical services, growing incidence of medical negligence, sex selection services for profit, unnecessary surgical procedures in gullible people.
The list of ills afflicting the Indian health system can be much longer. This is just a sample of issues at the centre of heated debate following the focus they received in Aamir Khan’s non- fiction TV show. Though all this is periodically reported in media, this is the first time the gravity of the situation has entered public consciousness thanks to the melodramatic presentation and Khan’s star value.
To my mind, the Medical Council of India ( MCI) continues to be the root cause of all the ills.
This self- regulatory body is supposed to give approvals to new medical colleges and expansion of existing ones as well as act as a watchdog for the medical profession.
Instead, it has come to symbolise unholy nexus between corrupt doctors, officials, politicians and college managements.
If the very foundation of medical education is based on corruption, how do you expect the end product — doctors — being churned out from this machinery to be clean. The same applies to dental and nursing councils as well. Yes, there are exceptions. We have good colleges and good doctors, but they are in short supply.
Now look at the other role of MCI and state councils. It was pathetic to see current head of MCI Dr K. K. Talwar defend the council’s ethics committee in Khan’s show. The ethics panel of MCI ( and those of state medical councils) is a crude joke on people of India. It is just a forum to shield doctors facing charges of medical negligence and corruption and not to uphold ethics and patient rights.
Imagine Dr Ketan Desai — who was caught red- handed taking a bribe, chargesheeted by CBI, sent to jail and is facing a trial — retains his medical license. Why? Because MCI and the Gujarat Medical Council colluded to protect him.
Two successive secretaries of MCI have been involved in corruption cases, but the council has not taken away their right to practice.
How can poor victims of medical negligence even hope to get any justice from such councils? If Dr Talwar is serious about his job, will he ask MCI and its ethics panel to investigate the cases of commissionseeking revealed by two doctors in the show he participated? An ally of corrupt medical councils is a trade union of doctors called Indian Medical Association ( IMA) — which incidentally nominated Desai to become President of World Medical Association even after he was booked for corruption. IMA feels that the medical community is being made a soft target in media for female foeticide, medical negligence and so on. If IMA wants the medical profession to be seen in good light, as a first step it should immediately dissociate itself publicly from all chargesheeted doctors like Desai and remove them from IMA membership, bring out a white paper on malpractices in the medical profession and launch a national campaign against medical negligence as well as unethical marketing practices of drug companies.
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