Corruption in Indian health care has hit the headlines of the prestigious British Medical Journal, which has termed it cancerous and said it is "ruining doctor-patient relationship".
An Australian doctor who witnessed how bribes and kickbacks are routine has written about his Indian experience in the journal's latest edition. Dr David Berger tells readers how a marketing executive of a private heart clinic approached him with an envelope full of cash requesting him to give a positive report in an investigation against the clinic.
Berger's article is the second most read (over 425 views) in the journal.
Dr Kishor Taori, president of the Maharashtra Medical (MMC), said: "In India, the practice of giving bribes/commissions is a major reason for doctors losing their credibility. I agree that it is very dangerous and spoils the doctor-patient relationship. MMC is trying to work on this... To begin with, we have written to 300 doctors'organisations, accredited to the MMC, to spread awareness among their doctors."
The MMC has been cracking the whip ever since a Mahad-based doctor, Dr Himmatrao Bawaskar, petitioned it after receiving a "commission" from a well-known diagnostic chain for referring a patient for an MRI test.
The Indian Medical Accociation (IMA) has already started awareness campaigns. "Not all are indulging in this unethical business... We are spreading awareness to ensure that the system of giving or taking bribes is done away with. We have requested doctors to give us information on doctors indulging in such unethical practice so that we can take action," Dr Jayesh Lele, general secretary, IMA, Maharashtra, said.
The MMC has recently sent a show-cause notice to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Andheri (W) for asking doctors to refer patients to the hospital in exchange of bribe/commision.