The move comes close on the heels of a Parliamentary panel report calling for revamping the MCI and the Supreme Court appointing a three-member Oversight Committee headed by ex-CJI R M Lodha to oversee functioning of the body, which regulates medical practice in the country, with regard to an entrance test.
The launch of the coalition preceded release of a book, ‘Dissenting Diagnosis’, which contains first person accounts of doctors about how patients are exploited in hospitals and laboratories in India authored by Dr Arun Gadre and Dr Abhay Shukla. The book was also launched on the occasion.The alliance was announced by Dr Abhay Shukla of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement) at a press conference here which was also attended by representatives of a number of doctors’ bodies including Indian Doctors for Ethical Practice (IDEP) and SATHI. They alleged “massive corruption” in MCI.
The doctors termed as “worrying” the “silence” of the Health Ministry on the findings of the House panel. The coalition may draft a model Act if the government does not take any step in this regard, Shukla said.
Adopting a resolution demanding scrapping of the Indian Medical Council Act, the doctors said its provisions were lenient and that it should be replaced with a new law to check corruption in medical education and promote ethics in the medical profession.Commenting on the collusion between MCI and private medical colleges, Dr GS Grewal of Punjab Medical Council alleged it was common knowledge that some of the MCI members prefer “gold instead of cash” and overlook the concept of “ghost faculty”.
Dr Jasodhara Dasgupta of Medico Friend Circle, another partner of the alliance, said the time was ripe for the government to take strong action against MCI which she said has failed to equip doctors to handle even primary health care issues.Dr Samiran Nundy, a senior surgeon, suggested that Britain’s General Medical Council could be a good model to follow in restructuring MCI and that the body should have nominated members from the civil society. “Right now the regulatory system is being hijacked. They have absolutely no regard for medical ethics. That is why the reform should involve multiple stakeholders as any such initiative requires wider civil society participation,” Shukla said.
The network of “ethical” doctors received support of a group of MPs who asked them to prepare a white paper on the alleged “massive corruption” in the body.
The move has found support from Members of Parliament including KC Tygai, Husain Dalwai and AV Swamy who extended their support in exposing alleged corruption in the medical body.
“We want you to prepare a white paper on the prevailing corruption in the Medical Council of India with all your questions and present it to the President. MCI has become an institution of exploitation and torture and it should be exposed,” Tyagi said.
He expressed hope that the matter will be taken up in the monsoon session of Parliament. “We assure you of our support in this fight in whatever ways we can. I hope when the matter comes up this monsoon session, we are able to demand MCI’s restructuring and bringing of a new law,” he said.
Dalwai, MP from Maharashtra, suggested launching one medical college in every district to meet the shortfall of doctors and surgeons in the country.
“Like we have one hospital at district level, there should also be one medical college in each and every district so that the increasing demand of doctors can be met. Poor people are suffering the most as they cannot go to big hospitals even as it is mandatory,” Dalwai said.