Thumbing Nose at critics, Ketan Desai, emerges a Colossus

By: Dhananjay Kumar
Dhananjay Kumar
Former MCI president is crowned president of World Medical Association (WMA)

New Delhi: Thumbing nose at horde of his detractors, former president of Medical Council of India (MCI), Ketan Desai, the unbeatable ‘Goliath’ in Indian medical education, has emerged now as straddling across the scene as a colossus.
To the chagrin of his diehard critics, Dr. Desai has been crowned as president of World Medical Association (WMA) during its annual assembly in Taiwan on October 21st despite his opponents’ all out bid to stall his global installation. Dr. Desai, an urologist, will head the top medical ethics world body for 2016/17.
With this prestige enhancing event, usually reticent and media shy, Dr. Desai has gone over the top, lambasting Niti Aayog’s bid to eliminate MCI and set up another regulator by the name National Medical Commission.
And, if political grapevine feverishly doing the rounds in the corridors of power is to be believed, Dr. Desai would prove Niti Aayog’s tall talk mere blustering. Ketan Desai and all his cohorts dominating MCI now are sitting pretty in the knowledge of his Gujju Godfather’s enormous clout in the PM Modi’s government. It also became obvious only recently when Dr. Desai’s Man Friday, Dr. Ajay Kumar, former IMA president, publically called Supreme Court’s appointed Lodha fame Oversight Committee (OC) as Ocean of Corruption.
As ‘Knight in Shining Armour’, Dr. Desai, after his installation as world body’s boss, read the riot act for those who are lusting to demolish MCI, his pocket borough. He gave a strong warning about continued political attempts around the world to marginalise the autonomy and self-governance of the medical profession. Dr. Desai, also the former President of Indian Medical Association, delivered hard hitting diatribe against agents out to grab MCI space. While giving his speech, he also donned as politician as he talked about terrorism and terror attacks.

Addressing delegates from more than 40 national medical associations, he said, ‘In many countries like Turkey, India, and the United Kingdom, there are continued political attempts to undo or marginalize autonomy and self-governance of the medical profession, including mauling and trampling on the trinity of professional autonomy, clinical independence and self-governance.’
Dr. Desai continued saying, ‘Yet professional autonomy is not limited to asking for the privilege to do what we want to do. It is less about physicians and more about patients’ rights. It is the assurance that individual physicians have the freedom to exercise their professional judgment in the care and treatment of their patients without undue influence of any type from any quarter how so powerful and mighty they be’.
‘Regulation of clinical practice, framing evidence-based standard treatment guidelines, defining and checking professional malpractice and medical education all need vital professional independence and a democratic system based on meaningful participative decision making. The WMA has been, is and must continue to be against government attempts to usurp professional independence through bureaucrats and politicians and making the same ‘subservient’, as a part of their calculated nefarious designs.’
He touched many issues in his long winding speech. Dr. Desai also warned that professional honesty and integrity were at risk in many countries because physicians were prescribing and referring patients based on pecuniary self-interest or ‘kick backs’. Physicians should not receive any financial or other consideration for referring patients to laboratories, pharmacies or opticians.
Dr. Ketan Desai is facing many corruption charges but he has got clean chits invariably from courts. During his stint as president, MCI earned the sobriquet of being den of corruption. Desai has been all through denying any wrongdoing in connection with the pending cases.

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