Can punitive actions bring an end to the practice of ‘cuts and commission’ in the medical field? Is there a need to reform medical education? Should the new National Medical Council have members from the lay public? Senior doctors and other experts got together to discuss some of the important aspects of the medical field last weekend in the context of the book, Healers or predators? Healthcare corruption in India that was launched in July.
“People who genuinely want to become doctors cannot afford the high fees and the ones who can afford the fees do not actually want to become doctors,” said cardiac surgeon Dr. Ramakant Panda. A cartel is running the healthcare system for the past 40 years, he said. “To get an MBBS degree, you have to pay anywhere between ₹2 crore and ₹4 crore to get admission into a private college. The competition to get into a public college is so extreme that you miss out because of one mark,” said Dr. Panda, who feels this system is the root cause of unethical ways chosen by some doctors.
Senior physician Dr. Farokh Udwadia also believes the way students are selected is not right. “We need to judge them based on interviews and their problem-solving abilities. I also see that there is immense anxiety to become specialist doctors. This will only promote more corruption. There will be no holistic approach to medicine,” he said.
On the medical councils, Dr. Udwadia said we need people with unimpeachable integrity in institutions like the Medical Council of India. “Public sector hospitals should be the best, but that’s ideal, that won’t happen for a long time. This is a corrupt society. The medical profession has been sucked into it so we need to get rid of corrupt doctors,” he said.
The panelists also discussed the need to make a subject like humanities a part of the medical curriculum, better facilities for resident doctors and a better work environment in the public sector where they get enough sleep, good food and so on.