New Delhi: People for Better Treatment (PBT), a Kolkata-based charitable organisation devoted to fight healthcare corruption and medical negligence, has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring back Health Secretary Keshav Desiraju, who was transferred “allegedly due to his strong stance against corruption and refusal to pave the way for another return of disgraced ex-president of Medical Council of India (MCI), Dr Ketan Desai” and his supporters to the helm of Indian health regulatory system.
Describing it as a “a matter of great significance to medical education and healthcare system in India” PBT president Dr Kunal Saha, in a letter to the Prime Minister, said on Thursday, Desiraju was an “exception as he showed willingness to tackle the important issues in a fair and impartial manner without wilting under extraneous pressure. The abrupt transfer of Mr Desiraju sends an ominous signal for doctors and public at large.”
Reports have been doing the round recently which said Desiraju, a 1978-batch IAS officer of Uttarakhand cadre who was appointed as the union health secretary in February 2013, was unceremoniously removed a year later on Tuesday morning, over differences with Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, an NGO working on public health, alleged that Desiraju’s transfer might be linked to some of his decisions such as his unwillingness to accept Dr Ketan Desai, former Medical Council of India (MCI) president who was removed following corruption charges, as a key functionary in the current medical council.
Quoting sources The Pioneer reported that Desiraju was allegedly upset over the fact that at least 17 doctors out of the 68 new members nominated or elected to the new MCI were part of the previous MCI, which was dissolved in 2010 on ground of rampant corruption under its ex-president Dr Ketan Desai. Desiraju was also allegedly against one of the companies selling stent in the country and wanted to cancel its licence despite objections by the ministry, the report claimed.
Speaking to PTI, Azad, however, described Desiraju as a capable officer and termed his transfer as a regular affair.