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In an interview with ETHealthworld, Prof. Dr Alok Ahuja, CEO, Dr Ahuja's Pathology & Imaging Centre, Dehradun, talks about the challenges in Indian healthcare. Edited excerpts:

Doctors were governed by IMC Act and the government is now introducing 'Clinical Establishment Act'. What is the need for such a regulation now?
The Indian Medical Council Act has been a fantastic and has served this country over 70 years. The MCI has two important jobs under the medical act which are quality of medical education and ethics. One must understand that the medical council of India has only recommendation powers of the central government and it cannot take action on its own, it recommends the central government which then approves or rejects it.

1/3rd of the doctors in America are Indians, NHS, Britain and half of the gulf has Indian doctors. Name the country around the world where the Indian doctors have not made their mark. The quality of medical education has been so good that our doctor have gone and taken over every medical service around the world in the last 70 years. I don’t understand what is the complaint on MCI's education standards for? Yes, there has been deterioration, why? That needs to be judged.

In last 20 years private medical colleges were allowed, the MCI did not allow them the government allowed them, 90 percent of them are owned by politicians, MCI did not give it to them. The regulations have been arm twisted in many ways in the last 20 years. Talking about ethics the MCI needed to do much more than it could but has anyone tried to understand why it could not do it? That was because it did not have any suo motu, even if we find something wrong I cannot take action against him unless I receive a complaint, then also it goes to State Medical Council or the MCI in the centre. MCI cannot do anything against corporate or private limited companies.

Four years back there was a big case against all those commissions that were caught in radiology centres and the sting was shown on TV, MCI could not act against them because owners were not doctors, owners were businessmen, they do not come under MCI only doctors do. Bureaucrats have decided to put them under licence raj and this is the problem in our country, nowhere in the world does it happen like this. In the year 2000, The Clinical Establishment Act was pushed through the back door, while the 2G, 3G scams were going on it was introduced in to the Rajya Sabha without any discussion and passed. Is that fair?

If you look at the healthcare in this country, 80 percent of the healthcare is in the private industry, the government budget is falling, deterioration of every government hospital and every medical college is visible. The private healthcare, the private funding has improved healthcare every year since the last 25 years. I agree that regulations and better governance is required whether it is on pharma, diagnostics, purchase of material, management of doctors, human resource, more medical college seats, everything needs improvements on all fronts. It is time that we really look at our healthcare delivery systems in a positive manner rather than just creating acts, more licences and more inspections.

Prof. Dr Alok Ahuja, CEO, Dr Ahuja's Pathology & Imaging Centre, Dehradun

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Why the need to replace MCI with NMC?
We are a democratic country, MCI represents democratically elected members from all over the country, now you want to replace a democratically elected body with a 20 member nominated body. You want to remove democracy and bring NMC where all 20 members are going to be nominated by the government. I think this whole concept is ridiculous.

As you are a practicing pathologist as well, how will Clinical Establishment Act impact pathology labs?
Clinical establishment act will impact healthcare delivery clinical delivery in all forms. Today the problem is that my patients don't know what will happen when I enter a nursing home. I agree that there needs to be more transparency, more standards but the government is using a wrong method on how to do it. The common man feels cheated because you have not put a star system like in hotels; if it is there he will know what he will get. It is important to maintain the quality standards. The regulations have been made so tough that soon all small nursing homes and small hospitals will finish off…

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Tags : Industry, MCI, Prof. Dr Alok Ahuja, NMC, Interviews, Dr Ahuja's Pathology & Imaging Centre


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