Quantum Leap

By appointing a tainted doctor, World Medical Association has compromised ethics

In a shocking move, Ketan Desai, disgraced former MCI chairman, has been appointed WMA president.

 |  Quantum Leap  |  3-minute read |   25-10-2016
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Medical ethics bodies are supposed to uphold standards of ethics and enforce them. What do you do when such bodies themselves indulge in unethical practices of the highest order?

This is the question that arises from the recent happenings at the World Medical Association (WMA), which is a body of medical associations. It has members representing leaders in medical ethics such as the British and American Medical Associations.

In a shocking move, WMA this week installed Ketan Desai, disgraced former chairman of Medical Council of India (MCI) and former president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), as its president.

Desai is perhaps one of the most tainted medical officials globally, facing charges of bribery and blatant violation of medical ethics. By opting to have Desai as President, WMA has compromised on its basic objective of "establishing and promoting the highest possible standards of ethical behaviour and care by physicians".

With a physician accused of taking money to sanction medical colleges and of running a medical mafia in India at its helm, WMA may have lost moral authority to discharge its responsibility of upholding medical ethics globally.Desai has single-handedly eroded medical education and ethical oversight in India as MCI president, and as someone who controls the body even today through his puppets.

mcibd_102516111235.jpg Desai has cronies in IMA who have apparently misled WMA into believing that Desai is an epitome of medical standards. (Photo: PTI)

He has cronies in IMA who have apparently misled WMA into believing that Desai is an epitome of medical standards and that he has been absolved of all charges. The world body should know that Desai is still an accused in the eyes of criminal justice system of India.

Just a few months ago, the Parliamentary Standing on Health and Family Welfare was "shocked to find that compromised individuals have been able to make it to the MCI" referring to Desai and the rot within MCI. The panel had observed: "How could it happen that the MCI, which has laid down elaborate duties and responsibilities of a 'physician' under the MCI Code of Ethics Regulations, 2002, could have at its very top a person who was arrested on charges of corruption in 2010?"

Desai was elected in 2009 to take over as president of WMA in 2010. But his presidency was suspended in 2010 after he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The association lifted his suspension in 2013 after IMA produced false information that all cases have been dropped against Desai. This week he finally took office.

When asked why the Association has elected a tainted doctor, a WMA spokesperson told me over e-mail that "to the best of our knowledge all criminal charges have been dismissed against Dr Desai". When I confronted the spokesperson with evidence of pending cases against Desai in the Indian courts, he had no further comments to make.

It is intriguing that the Global Medical Ethics Body has been constantly ignoring evidence of wrongdoing by an unethical doctor.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read: Cuts and commissions - Exposing the murky world of Indian health care


Dinesh C Sharma Dinesh C Sharma @dineshcsharma

Journalist, columnist and author based in New Delhi.

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