As a nation we have traditionally placed doctors on a pedestal. More so since they deal with matters of life and death and for the amount of hope they infuse in patients and their loved ones through their mere presence and words. So when people fall from pedestals, the reverberation all around is quite loud and disheartening.
The landmark Supreme Court judgment against Kolkata’s AMRI hospital and three of its doctors that have been asked to compensate an NRI doctor who lost his wife due to lax treatment is stirring. It has exposed a dreadful inability on the part of both the hospital as well as the doctors to give due recognition to the value of human life. The judgment has also opened up our eyes to how a growing culture of medical commercialization has put ethics into the shade. One of the voices on the internet captured the sentiments of the nation crisply by saying that “…when doctors are given (monetary) targets to extract out of patients then there is something seriously wrong with the system…”
Indeed, something is seriously wrong. The death of Anuradha Saha in 1998 while on a visit to India, the long-haul battle by her bereaved, US-based husband, Dr Kunal Saha in courts of law in India, have truly exposed the rising commerce-above-ethics mentality in India’s medical fraternity. Long known for putting patient before money, things have changed dramatically over the last two decades. Some doctors now openly ask for commissions from sales representatives, insurance agents and several sundry agencies that service the healthcare sector in return for giving them business. Hospital managements pay huge cuts to doctors and pressure them into roping in patients and making them shell out large sums of money during their treatment.
One thing hugely satisfying, though, is that the judgment restores trust in the Indian judicial system and reminds us that no man, not even the long-revered doctor, is above the law. And that greed among India’s medical community will be dealt with severely.
Elsewhere in the magazine you’ll find interviews that relate to two similar diaspora nations—Mauritius and Trinidad and Tobago. Both are islands very similar in size and population, and both have majority Indian-origin people. The system of indentured labour was first tried in Mauritius and later extended to erstwhile sugar colonies such as Trinidad and Tobago, elsewhere in the Caribbean, Africa and Fiji.
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