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Wanted: An Anna Hazare for the medical industry

Posted Dec 20 2011 6:46pm
Anna Hazare has stepped up the pressure on the government to bring about an effective Lok Pal Bill in the winter session of Parliament. People asked why Anna Hazare was assuming that the bill is not going to be passed and was planning an agitation. I kind-of saw reason in those arguments. But now, when I think about it, had the pressure been eased even if just a bit, the bill would never have been brought in this session. Well, I am still not sure if the bill is going to be a reality because our politicians are so thick skinned and devious that they may still find a way out.

Anyway, coming to the topic, we really need a crusader similar to Anna Hazare to check corruption in the medical industry. It is so widespread that it is a bigger danger than the administrative corruption that he has been fighting against. This is because it directly affects the life of the citizen. If administrative corruption is not checked, the worst that can happen is that someone's house may not be built, someone's pension may not be released or some corrupt ministers may get away after thieving the nation of a few thousand crore rupees.

What is happening due to medical corruption? First, what do I mean by medical corruption? Medical Corruption is basically when doctors and hospitals treat a patient for considerations other than the patient's health. For example, a doctor prescribing a brand of erythropoietin simply because that company sponsored  a foreign trip for him and his family. Or a doctor eschewing a particular brand because he was not sent on such a trip! In these cases, clearly, the patient's condition has become secondary. What became important is what the doctor gained from the transaction.

Referral fees is another huge area of massive, brazen corruption in the medical industry. Doctors are given huge referral fees for almost every service. Doctors, for the most part, send their patients to the service providers that offer the largest cut.

There are many such areas where corruption has become so deeply ingrained in the industry that it is no longer seen as 'corrupt' and yet it is nothing short of corruption. Shameless, absolute corruption.

It is more important for this corruption to be fought, in my opinion. For it is not merely money that is being lost, it is often lives that are put at stake.
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