oppn parties Giving a Shot to the Health Sector

News Snippets

  • Amit Shah says the government will identify and deport illegal immigrants from all parts of the country
  • Reports from Pakistan confirm that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested and sent to jail
  • After the SC order, Karnataka Speaker says he will go by the Constitution in deciding on the resignations of the 16 MLAs
  • Rebel MLAs say they will not attend the trust vote on Thursday
  • Supreme Court rules that rebel MLAs cannot be forced to attend the assembly and vote in the floor test
  • Both the Centre and the Assam government have sought re-verification of up to 20% of draft NRC data
  • Pakistan opens its airspace for Indian planes
  • Dilapidated building collapses in Mumbai, killing more than 10 people while many were still trapped
  • Kulbhushan Jadhav case verdict to be delivered today by the ICJ
  • A Vistara flight landed in Lucknow with just 5 to 10 minutes of fuel left in the tank
  • Supreme Court to decide on Karnataka MLAs plea today
  • Karnataka alliance to face floor test on Thursday
  • China says that the next Dalai Lama will be appointed by it
  • Pakistan assures India that no anti-India activity would be allowed in the Kartarpur corridor
  • Pakistan to allow visa-free access to 5000 pilgrims every day to undertake pilgrimage using the Kartarpur corridor
ISRO calls-off Chandrayaan-2 mission launch at last moment due to technical snags. revised date will be announced later
oppn parties
Giving a Shot to the Health Sector

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
After the report of the parliamentary standing committee on health on the sorry state of affairs in the Medical Council of India (MCI), five things have been set into motion that spell better times for the health sector if taken to their logical conclusion. First, the government has announced that it is seriously considering revamping the MCI, including drafting a new Act if necessary, as recommended by the parliamentary committee. Then, a body of doctors was conscience stricken enough to petition the Supreme Court to do something about the corrupt and ineffective MCI. The Supreme Court, on its part, formed a three member committee headed by ex-chief justice R M Lodha (this gentleman is building a reputation of being there when some errant body needs fixing, first the BCCI and now the MCI) to monitor the working of the body. The MCI has been directed to consult the committee before taking any administrative decision.

Then, the Supreme Court directed that the various admission tests conducted either by state governments or private medical colleges would no longer be allowed and the all-India common test, National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) would be the only benchmark for admission to undergraduate medical and dental courses. Finally, it was reported that the government was considering implementing the recommendation of the High Level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage of the erstwhile Planning Commission that it should be made mandatory for doctors to prescribe medicines by their chemical names instead of brands. Of these five developments, the Lodha committee is temporary and will exist only till such time when either the court pronounces a final judgment or the government disbands the MCI to enact a new statute and reconstitute the body according to the new law.

Although there has been criticism of the SC judgment on NEET, it goes without saying that any comment on it should keep in mind that multiple tests run the risk of admitting students for considerations other than merit and provide the country with sub-standard medical professionals. It also breeds corruption and induces usurious profit making in private colleges through capitation fees. Hence, a pan-India test based on merit is the best way to standardize admissions. The reconstituted MCI should seriously devise ways of continuing education and certification for doctors. The present system is a sham and there is no way to find out if the doctors keep themselves abreast of latest medical developments or treat patients according to what they learnt several years ago. Online education and tests, with proper checks for personal verification can be looked into.

Finally, this time, the government should seriously implement the rule for doctors to prescribe medicines by generic names. For many years, this has been taken up and shelved only because of the drug lobby. But things are getting out of hand. Costly, branded drugs are making for corrupt doctors and are in no way better than cheaper alternatives. The Indian drug industry floods the US market with cheap generics but continues to overcharge the Indian customer only because it pays ‘bribes’ to doctors. This has to stop and the recommendation of the High Level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage should be implemented without delay.