A Matter of Faith (13)



The proliferating corporate sector companies which operate scanners, MRIs, lithotrities, ultrasound and such expensive services profitable business, have no qualms in offering massive kickbacks to doctors who refer their patients to them. Permitting the excessive production of doctors, drugs and medical equipment and that too, of the kind, has inevitably led to extensive malpractice and converted peony health into an "illness business" whose chief beneficiaries are the med profession, the pharmaceutical and medical industry and, of late Corporate Sector. They now jointly comprise the modern health industry. Despite incurring over Rs 20,000 crores on so-called health care (tu thirds of which is in the private sector) the statistics reveal a dismal picture, compared to Sri Lanka or even Kerala in our own country. While three quarters of our people live in rural India, three quarters of all expenditure, manpower and infrastructure inputs are in the urban situation even in the Public Sector. Even worse is the distribution. The quality of services is loaded in favour of the wealthier urban sections. The emphasis is on curative medicine for the disease pattern of the West, which affect our small affluent section (diseases for which expensive glamour technology has increased cost without commensurate benefit), while communicable diseases which affect the vast majority of our people who are poor are ignored though we possess the simple but effective and cheap knowledge and technology for their prevention, control and cure. So tuberculosis, leprosy, malaria, gastroenteritis, poliomyelitis and tetanus continue to take their unremitting toll. It is evident that the present health service is geared more for the benefit of the health professionals and the health industry than for the people. While it is true that the medical profession has been gradually co-opted and now has become an ancillary of the health industry, their voice and especially the voice of the senior members would carry considerable weight in drawing public attention to the cause of this distortion, to the lack of accountability of the Public Sector and the exploitive nature of the private one.

Health depends as much on proper nutrition, water supply, sanitation and environment than on hospitals, doctors and drug and even for diseases of the heart, cancer, and stroke, change to a healthier lifestyle is far more effective. This information is more important to the public. Even the United States now advocates what Ayurveda and Yoga have taught throughout the ages. Is it not time, then, to return to our culture, lifestyle and civilisation rather than aping the west? There is also ample evidence that remarkably effective health care can be achieved by all our per within the current expenditure, if there was proper distribution of resources and the people are kept properly informed and involved in their own health care.

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar.