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Health-scare System!

Every human body is built to last as long as it can, thanks to its immune system. The immune system needs boosting, on a regular basis, to keep the person disease-free. Modern medicine is not doing that.

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.” Coco Chanel

Social injustice and illnesses are related. Poverty is the mother of all diseases—from common cold to cancer. A child born to a poor mother will have a very small hippocampus major in the brain, small pancreas, small vessels, and so on, which makes the child vulnerable to killer diseases. In addition, the small hippocampus makes the mind unfit for intellectual pursuits. Poverty is a double-edged sword. It also impoverishes the poor further depriving them of their daily wage earnings. The poor pay with their lives, eventually.

It is not prevention that should be our motto but health promotion. Disease is failed health promotion. Prevention brings in screening in its wake which promotes disease mongering. Every human body is built to last as long as it can, thanks to its immune system. The immune system needs boosting, on a regular basis, to keep the person disease-free. Modern medicine is not doing that. Clean water, air and food are of vital importance. Meanwhile, a third of the world population lives on less than one meal a day.

Nutritional immune deficiency syndrome (NIDS) is one of the biggest killers in poorer countries; it is deadlier than AIDS. India has the largest population of children with NIDS—roughly 67 million. This does not lead to social justice. While such a large chunk of our population cannot afford even one meal a day, the rich and the powerful flaunt their wealth. The fact that the government spends millions of rupees on space programmes shows callous disregard for the poor.

Poverty economics has to be learnt not in Oxbridge or Harvard but in the slums of the poor countries. Only then does one get the true picture. Truth is usually the first casualty in world affairs. It is akin to ‘Dictator Experiments’ of John List, which showed that mankind is not altruistic. The controlled experiments of Vernon Smith and Daniel Kahneman showed that mankind is hardwired to be altruistic! While the latter got the Nobel Prize in 2002, the genuine study of John List, which concluded that mankind is indeed greedy, did not.

The medical profession, like all other professions, has become homo-economicus. Doctors are not concerned with poverty eradication, lest we should break our own rice bowl! Doctors can never survive without patients while patients could survive without doctors. Disease mongering has become routine in medicine as shown by a special issue of PLOS Medicine brought out by the editor, Ray Moynihan. Instead, the medical-care system has become today’s ‘Medical Scare System’. We seem to have forgotten the motto—Patient care is CARING for the patient—as enunciated by Sir Francis Peabody way back in 1927.

Hospitals and doctors have very little to do with health of the populace. More doctors and poorer health has been the finding of a 14 industrialised countries’ study. (JAMA 2000; 284: 483-485) Civil engineers, politicians, social workers, philanthropists and altruistic social organisations should be able to do something better for public health. Food, shelter and clean water and a hygienic environment, coupled with economic empowerment and ethical education, should do the trick to keep our immune system at its peak.

One gets a glimpse of the hidden agenda of countries that become rich at the expense of the poor in a wonderful book called Perpetuating Poverty published by the Cato Institute in Washington DC. Come to think of it, if poverty is truly eradicated, the world order would collapse. Meanwhile, our own efforts to eradicate poverty have not made a difference. Will our policy-makers wake up to this reality, please?

“If you’re in trouble, or hurt or in need—go to the poor people. They're the only ones that’ll help—the only ones.”   — John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.


RTI Judgement Series: PIO of Medical Council asked to pay Rs3,000 as compensation
The CIC found that the PIO of MCI treated the matter in a casual manner, thus subjecting the appellant to unnecessary harassment while waiting for the information. This is the 140th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) at the Medical Council of India (MCI) to provide complete information available and also pay a compensation of Rs3,000 to the appellant for the costs of filling appeals and for the loss and detriment suffered by him.
While giving this judgement on 22 December 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “It is evident that the PIO at MCI has treated this matter very casually and the appellant has been subjected to unnecessary harassment in waiting for the information.”
Srinagar (Kashmir) resident Mohammad Afzal Bhat, on 1 February 2011, sought information submitted by the Government Medical College (GMC) at Srinagar in their declaration forms from the PIO of MCI. Here is the information he sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act...
Declaration forms (2010-11) of faculty members submitted by Principal/Dean Govt. Medical College in July 2009 to MCI regarding recognition of various departments viz. 
i) Department of Pathology/Haematology ii) Department of Paediatrics iii) Social and Preventive Medicine iv) Pharmacology & v) Anatomy.
1. List of faculty members submitted by Principal/Dean Govt. Medical College Srinagar to MCI in the latest inspection of July 2009 Viz. No. of professors. Associate Professors, Assistant Professors and Demonstrators etc. of the above mentioned departments.
2. Their name, designation and address.
3. List of permanent and contractual faculty members submitted to MCI.
4. If contractual faculty members are appointed, mention name, address and year of contract with Govt. Medical College Srinagar/Date of expiry of contract with GMC Srinagar.
5. No. of faculty members presently working in the GMC Srinagar, permanently as well as contractual as per MCI inspection report of July 2009.
6. Library timing of GMC Srinagar submitted to MCI.
In his reply, the PIO provided list of faculty members for some department and also sanctioned strength of faculty.
However, citing no reply received from the PIO, the appellant Bhat filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) and deputy secretary directed the PIO to provide the information sought by the appellant.
Bhat then approached the CIC with his second appeal in which he stated that the PIO provided incomplete, unsatisfactory and false information.
During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that the appellant had sought information on six queries for information submitted by the Government Medical College Srinagar in their declaration forms. 
The PIO admitted that the declaration forms have to be submitted by the Medical Colleges at the time of inspection.
Bhat, who was not present during the hearing, had stated in his appeal, that an inspection of the said college was done in July 2009 for recognition of five departments and he was seeking information with relation to declaration form through his RTI application of 1 February 2011. 
Mr Gandhi noted that the PIO gave no clarification (on this issue) and very curiously transferred the RTI application on 8 March 2011 to the PIO of the Medical College, Srinagar.
The PIO admitted that at the time of inspection it was mandatory to give the declaration form and that it is one of the conditions for renewal of the recognition. 
The Bench said, "The Act of transferring the RTI applications to the PIO of the Medical College appears to indicate that these were not available with MCI. This would be a very serious default. Further, the PIO of the Government Medical College has also not provided the declaration forms to the Appellant. The inference could be that no declaration forms may have been given."
"It is evident that the PIO at MCI has treated this matter very casually. If he did not have the declaration forms, he should have informed the appellant accordingly. It is evident that the appellant has been subjected to unnecessary harassment in waiting for the information," Mr Gandhi said in his order.
While allowing the appeal, the Bench, using its powers under Section 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act directed the PIO to send a compensation of Rs3,000 to Bhat for the costs of filling the appeals and the loss and detriment suffered by him.
Mr Gandhi also asked the PIO of MCI to provide the declaration forms to the appellant before 10 January 2012. "If the declaration forms are not with MCI, then an affidavit will be given to this effect to the appellant and the Commission before 10 January 2012," the CIC said.
Further, finding the PIO guilty of not furnishing complete information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of Section 7 as per the requirement of the RTI Act, the CIC issued a show cause notice to the PIO.      
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002815/16533
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002815
Appellant                                  :                 Mohammad Afzal Bhat,
                                                                       Srinagar, Kashmir
Respondent                             :                 Dr Anshu Sethi Bajaj
                                                                      Public Information Officer & Dy. Secretary 
                                                                      Medical Council of India
                                                                      Pocket-14, Sector-8,
                                                                      Dwarka Phase-I,
                                                                      New Delhi-110077


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