The British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently reported that charges were dropped by the CBI court in Lucknow against the disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai. The BMJ article (carried by PBT) also reported that despite Dr. Desai’s several criminal indictments and a grossly tarnished background, the World Medical Association (WMA) recently decided to select Dr. Desai to be WMA president for 2016. This is the first time in medical history that a doctor of Indian origin is given the highly prestigious post of WMA president. In a response to the BMJ article, PBT president, Dr. Kunal Saha, has raised an important question as to why the WMA had to select perhaps the most notorious doctor in Indian medicine as their president for 2016. Dr. Saha’s response to BMJ can be viewed at the BMJ website (www.thebmj.com). It is also reproduced below:
“The name of Dr. Ketan Desai is well-known, nationally as well as internationally, amongst all doctors of Indian origin, albeit not always for the right reasons. As reported in this article, despite having been indicted for serious criminal charges including bribery and corruption during his time as the head of the Indian Medical Council (MCI), Dr. Desai was recently chosen as World Medical Association (WMA) president-elect for 2016 based on pro-Desai claims made by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) that leaves no doubt that Dr. Desai still maintains a strong grip over the medical fraternity in India.
India has approximately 700,000 to 800,000 registered doctors many of whom are performing wonderful job in India. In addition, large number of doctors of Indian origin have settled in other countries including UK and USA. Some of these non-resident Indian (NRI) doctors have also made great contribution to the society through practice or major discoveries to advance medical science. One must wonder why the WMA had to choose seemingly the most controversial doctor from India to lead this international medical organization for 2016.
Although all charges but one against Dr. Desai have been dropped, the main case for alleged bribery as the MCI president is still pending against him in Delhi. Indian as well as large part of international medical communities are in serious need to uplift public trust, honesty and transparency. Selection of a doctor facing criminal charges to head the WMA is not likely to help in our endeavor for an improved doctor-patient relationship in the future.”
Competing interests: Author is also the founding-president of People for Better Treatment (PBT), a registered humanitarian organization dedicated to fight medical corruption in India. The PBT has also filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Delhi against the selection of Dr. Ketan Desai as the World Medical Association president-elect for 2016.