will SATYAMEV JAYATE produce its effects

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  • #10540

    Will the show SATYAMEV JAYATE produce its effects and increase awareness amongst the masses

  • #15517

     The show has a good concept, good structure and the brand of Aamir Khan will surely take the show a long way. In fact according to a newspaper report, this show registered the highest TRPs in the history of Indian television, even more than KBC.

  • #15528

     Mr. Aamir Khan has taken the mantle of difference in his hand, and he is visibly using his wand to good use till now. The 4th episode of his much-followed show ‘Satyamev Jayte’ was as much a treat to watch as it was shockingly informative. We have learnt it the bitter way that the people we trust the most in times of dire need, are not trustworthy in most cases. The latest edition of Aamir’s ‘Bring a change’ campaign saw uncovering the harsh reality that persists in our pathetically corrupted nation: Doctors are businessmen now. And in fact, they are as dexterous and cunning in their profession as only few out there can ever hope to be.

     The perfectionist actor opened our eyes up by talking in more facts and figures this time than relying on the usual emotional melodrama. He introduced us to some cases which shame the medical profession in our country. There was a man who lost the fingers of his feet unnecessarily. Then we had in the show a retd. Major who had come there along with his daughter to enlighten us about the case where his wife was operated upon without his consent, resulting in the loss of her life, let alone more than Rs. 8 Lacs they had to pay up for the surgery. The case is being debated in court right now.

    Then we got introduced to the blasphemy that the men in medicine commit to earn their luxurious livelihood. Dr. Anil Pichhar who runs a pathology lab in Santa Cruz(E) told the audience how the doctors charge ’40-50% commission’ for referring their patients to his laboratory. Aamir also talked to Dr. Amol Pandit, now a practitioner in the UK, via VC, where the doctor also advocated further on the malpractice.  Furthermore, we got to know about a shocking case where it got hard to believe the atrocities that the white-coated men commit. In Medak district, Andhra Pradesh, almost all the women in a village had been operated upon forcefully where their uterus had been taken out for monetary gains. The doctors apparently scared the women into undergoing an operation, going onto the extent of saying that they could lose their lives if not operated upon.

    Next, we got to know about the curious case of the practices going on in the premier governing body in the country on this matter, the Medical Council of India (MCI). Dr. Ketan Desai has been banned twice for ill practices. Major General Jhingaon was shocked, when he was appointed the chief next, while inspecting the state of medical colleges. They were only money-hungry. He resigned soon after. And the current chief, Dr. KK Talwar, was made to take an oath that he would look into this matter as soon as possible, and permanently cancel the licences of such doctors (which, stunning as it may sound, actually has not been done since 2008) that do not follow the basic regulations of the MCI.

    Although we must have been aware of the ‘donation’ scenario in the Indian colleges by now, but the medical students seated in the audience let us know that the ‘current rate’ is approximately Rs. 70-80 Lacs to get into an average college. A learned medical practitioner and editor of a medical magazine, Dr. MC Gulati blatantly criticised the working of the MCI. He talked facts, saying that since 2001, the govt has only opened up 31 medical colleges, whereas 106 private colleges have been established. Moreover, even the pharma companies pay ‘30% incentives’ to the doctors to prescribe only their drugs to the patients. He was extremely expressive in claiming that “health is not the priority in India anymore, since only the rich can afford it now”.

    When the show was nearing conclusion, Mr. Khan introduced us to two certain gentlemen who made us believe that the condition is not as bleak as it seems. There is always scope for a ‘happy ending’. Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, the founder of Narayan Hridalaya, is working towards a unique scheme called ‘Yeshaswini’. The comprehensive low-cost health insurance scheme provides the lesser privileged a chance to get medical help during times of need. Then we had Dr. Samit Sharma, an IAS, who enlightened us with amazing facts and figures. The ‘expensive’ medicines that we buy from normal chemist shops from the market are actually very cheap in reality. It’s only the branding that sky-rockets their cost drastically. The ultra-cheap medicines are available at ‘Generic Medicine Stores’. He is trying to make the concept of such drug stores popular throughout the nation, so we can avail every medicine at the minimal cost.

  • #15587

    Shaming the hippocratic oath

    Crass commercialisation and corruption are eroding the vitals of India’s healthcare system

    Doctors have demanded an apology from Aamir Khan, for having highlighted medical malpractices on a TV show. However, the fact of the matter is that while corruption in public sector and government has always been the focus of media, corruption in private clinics is seldom brought out. Catastrophic illness in the family is the number one reason for rural indebtedness. Healthcare expenses have become prohibitive even for upper-middle-class families. The most important reason for expensive and uncertain healthcare has been corrupt healthcare practices in India.

    Consider a real case of a person who met with an accident near Electronics City, located on the outskirts of Bangalore. The patient was lying in a pool of blood and many IT professionals passed by. No one stopped to pick him up in a car, for fear of loss of time and later mindless police investigations and prolonged court procedures. A rickshaw driver picked up the patient. He could have taken the patient to Nara-yana Hrudayalaya which is just two km from the place of accident. The driver, however, decided to take him through the by-now infamous Bangalore traffic for over 25 km, to a hospital in the city centre. That hospital pays Rs 3,000 to a taxi driver for bringing a serious patient.

    The misuse did not stop there. The hospital authorities called for the patient’s wife. She rushed in the next half hour. The hospital charged Rs 3 lakh to her credit card as advance payment. A credit limit of Rs 3 lakh is rich by Indian standards. But she was not allowed to see her husband, and had to wait anxiously for over 45 minutes. She could not bear it anymore and barged into the hospital room. The technicians were repairing the ventilator. She immediately shifted her husband to another hospital. The doctors tried to revive the patient’s brain for 15 days, but did not succeed.

    The unethical practice of hospitals encouraging incentive payments to taxi drivers goes unabated. The result could be fatal for the patient. This can happen to any one of us in any city. What else do hospitals do?

    They encourage doctors to prescribe too many tests, particularly the expensive ones. An MRI or a CT scan can cost Rs 10,000. The doctor gets one-third the amount as commission, for the prescription. The commission to the doctor is often paid by cash, but some pay by cheque too. Primarily it is not illegal if the doctor receives commission money in India. In the US, the Stark law prohibits such payments. The doctors who receive such payments could be debarred from practice for life. In India, the healthcare regulator, the Medical Council of India, has punished no one. Physicians have to declare any beneficial interest they may have with diagnostic clinics. Why can’t India have similar regulation?

    Consider kidney stones, most prevalent in India, due to our spicy diet. Many urologists prescribe surgeries for removal of kidney stones. The surgery is expensive and painful. Advanced lithotripsy uses laser beams to break the stones. Even technicians can be trained to use the lithotripsy machines. The machines work well for stones around 4 mm or less. But even if they are detected, doctors wait to prescribe surgeries that are invasive and expensive. No wonder, surgical procedures have gone up 20% over the last four years.


    A leading orthopaedic surgeon in Bangalore often prescribes knee replacement. The surgery used to be undertaken for old people unable to walk. Smooth-talking doctors now convince even youngsters to go for it. The average age of patients in knee replacement has been going down. The hidden reason for such prescription is said to be prostheses suppliers who dole out Rs 25,000 per surgery. The same applies to cardiac operations supported by stent manufacturers.

    Hospital-related infections are a major cause of deterioration or even death of patients. In the US, such deaths account for 20% of total mortality in hospitals. The figure in India is lower, but wrongly calcu-lated. Sometimes very serious patients are discharged with a recommendation to try another hospital, fully knowing the patient will die soon. The hospital’s reported death rate comes down. The patient may die during tortuous travel in ambulance vans. Deaths in Indian hospitals are rarely investi-gated in detail. Senior doctors object to the review of their decisions by any committee. Most hospitals that depend on star doctors do not want to antagonise them. Patients pay with their lives and with their hard-earned savings for medical callousness.

    Pharmaceutical companies pamper healthcare professionals with conferences in exotic vacation spots abroad. Hospitals sponsor physicians’ airfare. The pharmacy companies buy tickets for wife and children. The net result of course is that patients end up buying expensive medicines.

    While many are aware of these malpractices, they look the other way. How can one improve the system? First, the industry needs treatment protocols based on Indian conditions. Second, a systematic physician credentialing system should mandatorily track all the treatments, surgeries, outcomes, problems, deaths for each doctor and make this information public. Most important, a comprehensive regulation that brings more transparency in hospital operations and gives more rights to patients is long overdue.

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