February 26, 2024

World Medical Association still burdened with corrupt president-elect

Ketan Desai in New Delhi jail

A deadline approaches for the World Medical Association. It holds its annual general assembly in Vancouver from October 13 to 16. But the current address of its president-elect is “Tihar Jail, New Delhi”. Dr Ketan Desai, president of the Medical Council of India and a former president of the Indian Medical Association, was arrested on corruption charges in April. He was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe related to accrediting a medical college.  He is still described as “president-elect” on the WMA website.

Writing in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, Sanjay Nagral asks about the future of medical ethics in India. At the moment, the Medical Council has been disbanded by the government and replaced by six governors. Dr Nagral attributes the corruption to the rapid growth of the medical education industry.  

“Hundreds of private medical colleges (and ‘deemed universities’) … have been established, which need recognition and re-recognition from the Medical Council of India. Many of these lack the minimum standards and are willing to pay large sums for recognition. It must be noted that in many states these institutions are owned by political bigwigs for whom they are also centres of power. Thus, the Medical Council of India can spoil the party if it actually enforces standards. On the other hand, this is a veritable cash cow if someone wants to profit. A large amount of Desai’s power and money came from doling out favours to these willing customers.”

He nearly despairs of reforming  the system and says that, ethically speaking, the Indian medical profession is on “a road to perdition”. Cleaning it up “is by no means a simple task and will need support from all those who want to see a genuine and honest self regulatory body emerge from the present crisis.” ~ Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, July

Michael Cook
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ketan desai
professional ethics