Tag Archives: Dr Kiran Kumbhar
Book Review: ‘The Ethical Doctor’ Talks About the Role Society Plays in Perpetuating Medical Corruption
It is still not widely realized in our medical system that after patients, the biggest victims of medical corruption are honest doctors and young medical graduates who involuntarily get sucked into the unhealthy system.
The most amazing aspect about the book ‘Dissenting Diagnosis’ by Dr Arun Gadre and Dr Abhay Shukla is that despite it carrying some extremely depressing and infuriating truths about medical practice in India, it still is the best thing to happen to our profession in the recent past.
While some may find it shocking, there are times when India’s parliamentarians do a good job. One such group of MPs has been in the limelight recently: the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, chaired by Uttar Pradesh MP Prof Ram Gopal Yadav. In March the committee presented an important report that called for a complete overhaul of the totally dysfunctional Medical Council of India (MCI).
In India, as in much of the world, being poor, sick, and female is the worst state you can be in. But what I realized over the years is that being poor and pregnant is equally awful.
One of the most glaring deficiencies of medical education in India is a lack of focus on health systems and policy. While considerable emphasis on disease and its management is central to any medical curriculum, the absence of exposure to the workings of the healthcare system can prove to be a huge handicap once students graduate and enter the ‘real world’.
Public health infrastructure in India’s more than 630,000 villages is largely derelict and just 43.5% of villages have at least one doctor. Besides, while we blame the British for providing the most sophisticated care to only their ‘own’ people in colonial India, we tend to forget that our current politicians, for their care, tend to choose (using taxpayers’ money) either foreign hospitals or India’s luxurious private hospitals, while leaving millions of ailing common citizens to contend with mediocre to poor care in government hospitals having embarrassing ‘floor beds’.
According to one statistic, we require around 120,000 donated corneas each year, while only around 45-50 thousand are collected through donations (with just 15-20 thousand usable, since many collected corneas are not medically viable for a variety of reasons). But with a little more public awareness and participation, it won’t be hard for us to narrow or even close that gap.
Though corruption-related news frequently makes headlines in India, one senses only scant interest in health issues both from citizens and the media. Public health was of course never a significant part of the political and social psyche of India: perhaps a huge, massively diverse post-colonial nation needed time to reset its priorities after Independence. But now, at the dawn of 2015, one can’t help but think Wasn’t 67 years enough?
India and its people regularly baffle rationale. The massive contradictions and hypocrisies of our nation are never more dazzlingly on display than during elections. When ideally people and politicians should be prioritizing vital, basic issues like education, healthcare and agriculture, it is religion, region, caste and each other’s defamation that they are more obsessed with.
We are aware that occasionally doctors go on strike in some or the other part of India. The general public’s reactions (and apparently even the judiciary’s) to doctors’ strikes are, however, based on extremely idealistic and impractical premises.