History of Medicine · Medicine & Doctors · Public health · Recommended movies, books etc.

Review of the book ‘Healers or Predators: Healthcare Corruption in India’ by Nundy, Desiraju, Nagral

This review was published in Wire.in on 18 Oct 2018. Here is the full article. Below is an excerpt:

As a former physician now studying the history of the medical profession in India, I found the chapters written by veteran doctors most interesting. M.K. Mani, who has been in medicine for the last 60 years, writes that he cannot claim the medical profession “was as white as snow when I was a junior doctor.” There were doctors even then whose practice incorporated kickbacks and bribes, but “such activities were carried out in a clandestine manner and they were condemned by the majority.” Indeed the story of how this “deplorable exception has become the rule” over the last six or seven decades is one that merits detailed historical attention and holds a crucial key to policies that are more than just knee-jerk reactions.

What Dr Mani says about the undesirable aspects of medicine during his time as a junior doctor is corroborated by the quote at the top of this review. It is part of a speech that Jawaharlal gave in February 1947 to a meeting of an association of physicians in New Delhi. There has been much “dirty linen” in the profession since the beginning. Perhaps the adamant refusal of doctors to come clean about it in public has something to do with the full-blown crisis we are witnessing today. It is ultimately this prolonged conspiracy of silence that the editors of ‘Healers or Predators?’ intend to challenge: “[We] hope that through discussion and introspection, we will learn to improve our policies, programmes, and practices.”

Healers or Predators? Ed. Samiran Nundy, Keshav Desiraju & Sanjay Nagral OUP, 2018

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