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Healthcare Corruption In India In the Eyes Of A Foreign Doctor: Will The New Health Minister Listen?

British Medical Journal (BMJ), world-renowned medical journal published from UK, published a revealing experience of Dr. David Berger, an Australian doctor in Emergency medicine who volunteered to work in an Indian hospital recently, underscoring the harmful effects of the wide-spread corruption in Indian healthcare system.  Dr. Berger has found evidence of bribery and commission everywhere and described healthcare corruption in India “like a cancer”.  The author has painted a dismal picture and indicated that unless corruption is removed from the medical system soon, it may have more devastating effects not only for the hapless patients of India and also for the Indian doctors who aspires to be trained specialized medicine in developed countries.  We publish the entire BMJ article by Dr. Berger (see below) with a prayer and hope for that the newly appointed central health minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, will notice and take concrete steps to eradicate the rampant corruption from Indian healthcare delivery system.  PBT has recently submitted an urgent memorandum to Dr. Harsh Vardhan drawing his attention to the continued corruption in the newly formed Medical Council of India (MCI).

BMJ Article (May, 2014) Healthcare corruption in India

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  • ram June 8, 2014, 2:50 am
  • agrwl June 8, 2014, 3:19 am

    People for betterment of
    Foreign Medical Graduates
    President: R K Agrawal,
    231, Lalbaug, Morbi-2

    The health minister,
    Ministery of Health & Family Welfare,
    Govt of india,
    New Delhi

    Sub:-Plight of Foreign Medical Graduates of India & ways to improve supply of competent doctors in India, while eliminating all types of incompetent doctors

    Thousands of meritorious youth of mother India, who could not afford Crores of Donation in Pvt. Medical colleges, & could not get meagrely available Govt. seats but still determined to pursue this noble profession of medicine, go abroad for economical medical education.
    But on return, they are being discriminated in the name of screening test by the Medical Council of India, in collusion with National Board of Medical examination, & Govt. of India. A glance at the pass percentage of screening tests (just 15% to 30% with an average of 20%) will reveal the amount of discrimination being meted out by MCI to these graduates.
    I do not buy MCI’s argument that medical education all over the world is not up to Indian standards as justification for such a low pass percentage over such a long period. If their education is so poor, how come they have much better healthcare system than India has. And if 80% foreign graduates are indeed not worthy, why not ban foreign medical education completely? Why waste our youth & financial resources for such a worthless education & spoil life of 80% students who could have been productively used in other fields of life for the benefit of mother india?
    However, the fact of the matter is that such discriminatorily low passing percentage is deliberately kept to incite fear psychosis in the minds of students, so that they do not go abroad & ultimately fall pray to Pvt. Medical Colleges to cough up Crores in Donation. As the fear increases, demand for these seats increases, & as the demand increases, the donation amount increases. Part of this donation goes to MCI bosses is no more a secrete. MCI bosses become wealthy, the dens of corruption flourish, but, mother india suffers. Artificial shortage of doctors is created. Rural population falls pray to quacks, thus our National Health parameters decreases, & mother India becomes sick.
    Scores of Pvt. medical colleges openly auction their seats in crores, & pass their students from their own Pvt universities by taking crores again. We know how their faculties & facilities are checked by MCI, which exist only on paper. However, the quality of students admitted & the quality of Doctors produced is nowhere checked even on paper by any Govt. agency. They all are blanketly stamped competent without any scrutiny because corrupt officials get their share of Donation.
    Has MCI ever checked the standard of these Pvt. Medical College students by subjecting them to such a test?
    Is it not possible that MCI is asking for some alien standards from foreign medical college students, which its own Pvt. Medical College graduates do not possess?
    The solution to this problem lies in subjecting both foreign medical graduates as well as Pvt. Medical College graduates to a uniform licentiate examination to know if they all have minimum basic knowledge before stamping them competent & allowing them to play with our life. There will be several benefits to mother india & the only loosers will be corrupt officials & Pvt. Medical College mafia, as explained below.
    1.There will be no discrimination against anyone as all are subjected to the same test. As the fear psychosis will eliminate, more & more students will go abroad for economical medical education thus increasing supply of Doctors which ailing mother india badly needs, without any burden on Govt. resourses, & without compromising on standards.
    2.Increased supply of quality Doctors will improve the health parameters of ailing mother India. India will be gradually viewed as a healthy country.
    3. All incompetent doctors, whether Foreign medical college gradutes or Pvt. Medical college graduates will not be able to get in to the system, thus reducing medical negligence, which will be again beneficial to ailing mother India.
    4. Only losers will be corrupt officials & private medical mafia making crores by auctioning their seats, & still gving sub standard education, as demand for their seats will be greatly reduced as now students will have the choice of economical education without fear of discrimination. But, the benefit to mother India will be that healthcare will be free of corruption, money power & vested interests, which in turn will reduce the overall cost of healthcare, & promote competence, as Pvt. Medical Colleges will have no choice but to improve their standards.
    The proof of validity of above argument will lie in the fact that the only opposition you will face is from corrupt officials, the Pvt. Medical college mafia & the existing students of such colleges. Opposition from existing students of Pvt. Medical colleges can be overcome by not making these rules applicable to existing students. Those left will be corrupt officials & Pvt. Medical college Mafia as they will loose the maximum.
    But, Mother india will get a lot. Corruption from healthcare will reduce, overall cost of healthcare will reduce, medical negligence will reduce, healthcare will be greatly improved, with increased supply of quality doctors & mother india will no more be ailing.
    If all these need legislative changes, taking a long time, in the short run we can atleast reduce the discrimination meted out to Foreign Medical College Graduates by not subjecting them to some alien standards of test which our own Pvt. Medical Colleges do not possess, by subjecting a sample of such Pvt Medical College doctors to this test on voluntary basis for study purpose only to find out if the standard expected are indeed those possessed by Indian Pvt. Medical College Graduates. Since, all these Pvt. Medical college graduates are blanketly stamped competent, they all must easily pass this test. Or, it will prove that blanket stamping of Pvt. Medical college graduates as competent is indeed money driven & not merit driven, which is detrimental to health of Mother India in more than one way as explained above. This will reduce some discrimination in short run, will result in increased supply of quality doctors, as fear of subjecting them to some alien standards will be removed & Govt. will come to know the actual standards of such Pvt. Medical College Graduates. However, to get the real picture all this exercise should be undertaken by an independent body free from the influence of MCI as this will also expose how these Pvt. Medical Colleges were recognised by MCI, which is the main culprit.
    Thanking you,
    Yours sincerely,

    (R K Agrawal)
    Copy to:
    1. Prime Minister of India, sh. Narendra bhai Modi, New Delhi
    2. National Board of Examination, New Delhi
    3. Medical Council of India, New Delhi