ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Doctors in Entrepreneurial Gowns

The Indian Medical Association has morphed into a body representing the trade and commerce of medicine rather than the practice of medicine as a whole. Given the increasingly commercial and corporatised nature of healthcare, organisations like the IMA should provide leadership and a sense of direction to the individual medical professional overwhelmed by change. They should protect the individual rights of doctors working in an increasingly cut-throat private sector which uses professionals as pawns in a game.

The call for a nationwide one-day “strike” by the Indian Medical ­Association (IMA) on 25 June 2012 to protest the proposed promulgation of the Clinical Establishments Act and the formation of the National Council for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) may not have surprised close observers of healthcare in India. The IMA is the main umbrella organisation of practitioners of modern medicine in India. The Clinical Establishments Act is a piece of legislation lying in wait for a long time which seeks to create standards for physical and operational infrastructure of health­care institutions. The NCHRH is a body which will replace various currently existing councils like the Medical Council of India, the Indian Nursing Council and the Dental Council of India under one overarching body.

There is a long history of blanket o­pposition from the organised medical p­rofession in India, especially the IMA, to any serious attempt at regulation of the practice of medicine. The recent strike action, although hardly effective, was perhaps a more dramatic form of this pheno­menon. A few weeks prior, the same organisation sought an apology from film star Aamir Khan for his alleged exagge­rated portrayal of unethical medical practices in India. The actor actually went on the counteroffensive by challenging the very legitimacy of the IMA to represent India’s medical profession.

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