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MCI corrupt, clinical trials body a snake pit: Harsh Vardhan

He has called the Medical Council of India a “corrupt organisation".

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Published: July 18, 2014 1:30 am

Days after the British Medical Journal published articles by doctors on corruption in Indian healthcare and prompted a debate among health and policy experts, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said he is “fully conscious” he “inherited a poisoned chalice”. He has called the Medical Council of India a “corrupt organisation” and the Central Drug Standards Control Organisation, which oversees clinical trials, a “snake pit of vested interests”.

In an email response to queries on corruption in the healthcare sector, Harsh Vardhan said: “As a doctor and former health minister, I am more aware than anybody else of the corruption that is eating into the entrails of every aspect of governance, including the health system. Within days of assuming office I had remarked that the Medical Council of India is a corrupt organisation… There is corruption in the approval of drugs. The Central Drugs Standard Controls Organisation, which is supposed to oversee clinical trials, is another snake pit of vested interests.”

He said these “corrupt practices” had been exposed by several agencies in the past. “The corruption that goes behind approving drug approvals was exposed through Wikileaks and later confirmed by the Standing Committee of the Health Ministry in 2012. There are malpractices in Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS). This too has been brought out in a report of the parliamentary standing committee. So, who am I to deny that it is going on?”

Underlining that “tolerating corruption in today’s day and age is bad politics”, Harsh Vardhan said: “The private sector serves the economically well-off sections of society which places a premium on quality service. But it tolerates corrupt practices by doctors and nursing homes.”

He said a visit to a government hospital was not an option for people who sought healthcare in private hospitals “because in most parts of India, the government health sector is synonymous with overcrowding, apathy, filth and corruption. So they surrender to the corruption of the private sector.”

“I have inherited a poisoned chalice. But a revolution is coming.”

“The public perception of doctors is so poor now. This was not so when I joined the profession. I must reiterate here that the erosion of moral values in the community of doctors is at the root of this malaise. In my clinic in Krishna Nagar, I had put up a notice announcing my consultation fee and also the fact that those finding it difficult to pay need not bother. Why can’t all doctors do this? This is the starting point of transparency,” he said.

“When the Prime Minister gave me this responsibility, I was conscious that his objective of giving the people a world class and inexpensive public healthcare system would be impossible to realise without a thorough clean-up. Corruption has to be rooted out and there are no (two) views on that.”

Information technology, he said, was a “powerful corruption prevention tool”. “I have decided to introduce videography for recording meetings where decisions involving award of tenders or bulk purchases are made. Transparency is the key to a long-term solution. Let’s develop such computer software that it becomes impossible to indulge in graft,” he said.

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  1. T
    Jul 18, 2014 at 9:16 am
    Doctors don't come from heaven. The day child gets admitted in school corruption begins. When students/parents pay capitation fee to get admission in medical college and this capitation goes beyond Rs one crore even for PG seats. Coporate hospitals are like 5 star hotels then Harsh Vardan can only fume. Let him as a Union Minister ensure Govt Hospitals in Delhi and state capitals become public friendly. this if he able to do in next one year it will be a good start. But prospects don't look bright when you see today News papers reporting Delhi BJP is ready to stake claim to form Govt by offering inducements to Congress and AAP MLAs to break away from their party and support BJP. This is very much possible as this was rhe way BJP ran Govt in Karnataka when durappa was CM
    1. S
      Jul 20, 2014 at 5:02 am
      Minister has a very good approach. For Market based solutions to be effective, it is extremely important to price discovery. If consumers don't know the price they cannot make choices.This is one place that the US Health system failed. The medical companies were successful in lobbying the compress to keep prices secret. With prices requires to be available, market forces will be able to cleanse the system. (There are other issues - relating to kickbacks for referrals - which may cast a shadow of doubt on doctor's referrals. But the solid base can only be built on absolute requirement of price transparency.
      1. Rakesh Mittal
        Aug 21, 2014 at 10:06 pm
        People for betterment ofForeign Medical Graduates President: R K Agrawal, 231, Lalbaug, Morbi-2 Gujarat Dt.10.07. 2014To,The health minister,MOHFW,GOI,NDSub:-Plight of Foreign Medical GraduatesR/sir,REASON FOR STUDENTS OPTINGFOR FOREIGN MEDICAL EDUCATIONThousands of meritorious youth, who could not afford Croresof Donation & could not get meagrely available Govt. seats, go abroad foreconomical medical education.DISCRIMINATIONBEING METED OUT TO THEM BY MCI ON RETURNBut on return, they are being discriminated in thename of screening test by the MCI, incollusion with NBE. A glance at the p percentage of screening tests (just10% to 20% with an average of 15%) will reveal the amount of discrimination being meted outby MCI to these graduates. FORTHE LAST 2 SEASONS IT IS EXPECTED TO BE WORSE, LESS THAN 10%.MCI’S ARGUMENTI do not buy MCI’s argument that medical education allover the world is not up to standards as justification for such a low p percentage.How come they have much better healthcare system than India has ? And if 90%graduates are indeed not worthy, why not ban this worthless educationcompletely?ACTUALREASONHowever, the fact is that such discriminatorily lowping percentage is kept deliberately to incite fear psychosis in the mindsof students, so that they do not go abroad & ultimately fall pray to Pvt.Colleges. As the fear increases, demand for private medical seats increases,as the demand increases, the donation amountincreases. Part of donation goes to MCI bosses is no more a secrete..SITUATIONOF PRIVATE MEDICAL COLLEGESScores of Pvt. colleges openly auction their seats incrores, & p their students from their own Pvt universities by takingcrores again. We know how their faculties & facilities are checked by MCI,which exist only on paper. However, the quality of Doctors produced is nowherechecked even on paper. They all are blanketly stamped competent without anyscrutiny.POINTED QUESTIONS TO MCIHas MCI ever checkedthe standard of these Pvt. Medical College students by subjecting them to sucha test?Is it not possible that MCI is asking for some alienstandards from foreign college graduates, which its own Pvt. College graduatesdo not possess?THEPERMANENT SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEMIn MCI vision 2015 doent, the impartial Govtappointed BOG of MCI smelt the foul play of private college controlled BOG ofMCI & also the competency concerns against private medical collegegraduates & hence proposed national exit exam being mandatory by 2015. Asthe private college mafia controlled BOG of MCI is now back in control, theyhave sent a proposal to health ministry in March –April 2014 for national exitexam, but changed the core of it to be optional for local graduates initially. MCIisn’t concerned about competency level of private medical college graduates& wants to continue its loot for some more years. God knows how long this‘initially’ will mean.WE DEMAND THAT THE PROPOSAL OF MCI BECLEARED IMMEDIATELY IN ITS PRESENT FORM SO THAT A STAGE IS SET FOR NATIONALEXIT EXAM.WE FURTHER DEMAND THAT IMMEDIATELYTHEREAFTER IT SHOULD BE MADE MANDATORY FOR ALL THOSE TAKING NEW ADMISSIONSPERTICULARLY IN PRIVATE COLLEGES. Even if itis made mandatory today, it will be effective after 5 years. DOESN’T INDIAN CITIZENS HAVE RIGHT TO KNOWIF THESE PRIVATE COLLEGE GRADUATES ARE ATLEAST OF FOREIGN COLLEGE GRADUATESSTANDARD?WORLDOVERVIEW IN SUPPORT OF PROPOSED SOLUTIONAll the developed countries such as UK, USA, Canada,Austrailia, Newzealand and even the least developed countries like Nepal hasuniform licentiate exam.BENEFITOF PROPOSED SOLUTIONThere will be several benefits to mother india &only losers will be corrupt officials & Pvt. Medical College mafia.1.There will be no discrimination against anyone asall are subjected to the same test. More & more students will go abroad foreconomical education thus increasing supply of competent Doctors.2creased supply of quality Doctors will improve thehealth parameters of ailing mother India.3. All incompetent doctors, will not be able to get into the system, thus reducing medical negligence.4. Only losers will be corrupt officials & privatemedical mafia making crores by auctioning their seats, & still giving sub standard education.6.Healthcare will be free of corruption, money power& vested interests, which will reduce the overall cost of healthcare.7. It will promote competence in Pvt. Medical Collegesas they will have no choice but to improve their standards.THE PROOFOF VALIDITY OF ABOVE ARGUMENTThe proof of validity of above argument lies in thefact that the only opposition you will face is from corrupt officials, the Pvt.college mafia & the existing students of such colleges. Opposition from existingstudents of Pvt. colleges can be overcome by not making these rules applicableto existing students.QUICKTEMPORARY SOLUTIONIf all these need legislative changes, in the shortrun we can atleast reduce the discrimination meted out to Foreign Graduates bynot subjecting them to some alien standards which our own Pvt. Colleges graduatesdo not possess, by SUBJECTING A REPRESENTATIVESAMPLE OF SUCH PVT COLLEGE GRADUATES TO THIS TEST ON EXPERIMENTAL BASIS TO FINDOUT IF THE STANDARD EXPECTED ARE INDEED THOSE POSSESSED BY PVT. COLLEGEGRADUATES. OPTIONAL INVOLVMENT WILL NOT BE TRULY REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE AS ONLYMERITORIOUS STUDENTS WILL DARE TO TAKE IT. Since,all these Pvt. college graduates are blanketly stamped competent, they all musteasily p this test. Or, else it will prove that blanket stamping of Pvt. collegegraduates as competent is indeed money driven & not merit driven &foreign graduates are indeed being subjected to some alien standards, which itsown system does not possess.BENEFITOF TEMPORARY SOLUTIONThis will reduce some discrimination in short run,will increase supply of quality doctors & Govt. will come to know theactual standards of Pvt. College Graduates.PRECAUTIONTO BE TAKENTo get the real picture, all this exercise should beundertaken by an independent body free from the influence of MCI as this willalso expose how these Pvt. Colleges were recognised by MCI.ALTERNATETEMPORARY SOLUTION OF RURAL POSTINGAlternatively, THOSE GRADUATES WHO SCORES 40% IN SCREENING TEST MAY BE GIVENRESTRICTED/ SUPERVISED LICENCE TO PRACTICE IN RURAL AREAS. FOR EACH YEAR OFRURAL SERVICE THEY MAY BE GIVEN 5 BONUS MARKS. WHEN THIS ADD UP TO 50% THEY MAY BE GIVEN FULL LICENCE.BENEFITOF ALTERNATE TEMPORARY SOLUTIONRural potion ispresently dependent on Quacks. These graduates are well trained in modernmedicine. Healthcare of many foreign countries is dependent on so traineddoctors only. They are deliberately bed incompetent by MCI for illicitfinancial gains. However, to alienate fear of MCI, it is proposed to give themrestricted/ supervised licence.Thanking you, Yours sincerely, (RK Agrawal)Copy to:1. Prime Minister ofIndia, sh. Narendra bhai Modi, New Delhi2. National Board ofExamination, New Delhi3. Medical Councilof India, New Delhi
        1. Rakesh Mittal
          Aug 21, 2014 at 10:05 pm
          People for betterment ofForeign Medical GraduatesPresident: R K Agrawal, 231, Lalbaug, Morbi-2 Gujarat Dt.30.06 2014To,Health minister,Govt of India,New Delhi Sub:-National level exit exam for medical graduatesR sir, Ina shameless move to protect incompetence and the degrading standards of medicaleducation in private colleges and to continue its corrupt practices, mci hasrecommended national exit exam to be optional and not mandatory 'initially'.God knows how long this 'initially' will mean. Theearlier appointed impartial board of Govt. Appointed Governors rightly sensedthe collusion between mci and private medical college mafia. To nail this, itproposed a national exit exam applicable to all who intend to practice medicinein India with clear road map of making it mandatory by 2015. But for corrupt practice to continue, thecurrent board having proximity to medical mafia has replaced the clear framework of time for which it was optional, by a vague word 'initially', in theirproposal submitted to health ministry sometimes around march – April 2014. Themci is always discriminating with foreign graduates by bing them asincompetents, and subjects them to screening test which is always designed tofail these graduates.But when it comes to checking the quality of doctorsproduced under its own corrupt system, it turns its back and finds varioucuses to avoid scrutiny of doctors produced under its own system, so thatmedical mafia can make more money till its hollow claim of competency iposed.Even the bar council of India has made similar examfor advocates to be mandatory but current mci, due to it’s proximity to medicalmafia is reluctant to do so. Itseems in the eyes of corrupt mci, life itself is less precious than justice?We demand health ministry to APPROVE THEPROPOSAL IN ITS CURRENT FORM IMMEDIATELY so that at least a stage is setfor exit exam as soon as possible. Wealso demand that immediately after approving the proposal in current form the health ministry and mci should takefurther steps to MAKE IT MANDATORY TOTHOSE TAKING FRESH ADMISSIONS FROM NEXT YEAR. Even if it is made mandatorytoday it will be practically effective after 5 year. THIS STEP NEEDS IMMEDIATE ACTION IF HEALTH MINISTERY REALLY WANTS TOCURB CORRUPTION IN MEDICAL EDUCATION, as this alone will curtail more than70% corruption in medical education. It will also promote competence in privatemedical colleges & reduce medical negligence.Thanking you,yours faithfully,(Rk agrawal)Copy to Respected Prime Minister of India
          1. G
            Jul 18, 2014 at 6:48 am
            is he just going to talk or is he going to act at some point of time?
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