Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Slow Mutation

Right thinking doctors must get together


Things are changing slowly. On 22nd February, The Times of India had a report of the frustrations of 78 doctors in and around Pune. This is a good sign and an encouragement for people like me who have been fighting for this for four decades now. It was a coincidence that, on the same day, there was a report from London about how drug companies are fooling the medical world about the wrong drugs, to make money. The drug in question is the infamous statin. A few days ago, there was a report on the wrong nutrition advice given by the American science for more than 40 years. In 1968, I had warned the public about the dangers of fat-free diets and avoiding the best fat in the world—coconut oil. Now, they say coconut oil is a panacea for most human ills! All this makes me happy as I have been able to witness the truth coming out, slowly but steadily. I have written books, thousands of articles, in general interest magazines and scientific journals, and delivering hundreds of talks, since the 1960s, on the right approach to healthcare. 
The problem is much more complicated than simply of a clear conscience. It was nearly 90 years ago that some rich people in America saw the potential of producing chemical compounds from naphtha to control human illnesses—a very dangerous idea, based on the wrong premise that the human body is like a machine built by putting organs together. They worked their way through the then US government to get the medical colleges there audited for the authenticity of this idea. This greedy conglomerate was funding about 47 of the nearly 250-odd medical schools then. They had their staff on the governing boards of those colleges. They had one of their own retired staff, Abraham Flexner (a retired school headmaster) as a one-man commission. He declared only those 47 to be authentic and scientific medical institutions and the rest as bogus! Thus was born the era of chemical drugs which rule the roost even to this day. 
A recent study by Douglas C Wallace showed that all chemical reductionist molecules are rejected by the body and are sent to the liver for destruction while herbal drugs are recognised as self and used! Indian Ayurveda and many other systems have been in existence for times immemorial but were defamed by the infamous 1910 Flexner report.
The same is the story with other interventions. One glaring example will suffice. Coronary angioplasty is an effort which is not only a waste but could even lead to death of the patient! Except in rare cases of intractable chest pain and extreme reduction in heart’s function, there is no necessity for even coronary bypass surgery. Over-investigation and over-diagnosis are other ways of disease mongering. All in all, the hapless patient is in for expensive journey through our system. 
The whole of Western medicine is flawed as the human body works, as a whole, in consonance with its environment; not as a machine. When we use chemicals as drugs, we make it still more difficult for the body to recover from any disease. This needs to be incorporated into the medical education field to control runaway economic disaster. Today, private medicine has become a corporate monstrosity. But we, doctors, are either unaware of this or do not want to know it, since the change might break our rice bowl!
Right thinking doctors must come together to debate all these areas and come to a consensus on how to tackle these complicated issues. We must remember that a doctor is basically trained to look after the health of the public. We do very little by way of preserving human health. We have become sickness managers. 
“The FDA protects the big drug companies, and is subsequently rewarded, and using the government’s police powers, they attack those who threaten the big drug companies.  People think that the FDA is protecting them. It isn’t. What the FDA is doing, and what the public thinks it is doing are as different as night and day.”— Dr Herbert Ley, former commissioner of the US FDA 
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)


Land ordinance set to lapse?

Facing a road block in parliament and widespread protests, the government has now decided to go slow on the contentious land acquisition bill and may let the ordinance promulgated on the issue lapse. Knowledgeable sources said the government is unlikely to discontinue either of the houses in the middle of the session, a constitutional necessity if the ordinance has to be reissued.

"We are not looking for proroguing either of the houses," a senior minister told IANS.

As per Article 123 of the constitution, an ordinance may be promulgated only in the intersession period and it lapses six weeks after a parliament session begins.

If either of the houses is not in session, an ordinance can be brought, but not in a session break. The government, unable to pass in the Rajya Sabha the bill to replace the ordinance, had initially thought of proroguing one of the houses to reissue the measure. Proroguing a house means the budget session would end for that house and it would meet for a fresh session after the break.

The Rajya Sabha, which has no role in passing money bills, was the one whose session was likely to end. However, officials from the upper house said there is no such direction or indication so far. The government now appears to be trying to find a middle way.

"Proroguing the house and reissuing the ordinance could damage the government's image further," a senior BJP leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IANS, adding that a final decision on the fate of the bill is yet to be taken.

"With the session on, the ordinance in all likeliness may lapse, until some other way is found," the BJP leader said.

Former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C. Kashyap, however, said that without proroguing one of the houses, the ordinance cannot be reissued during the break.

"The break period is a part of the session, so an ordinance cannot be re-promulgated in this period. If one of the houses is not prorogued, the government will have to wait till the end of session to re-promulgate the ordinance," Kashyap told IANS, adding that there is "no precedent" for this.

Another way would be that the ordinance can be re-promulgated after the session in "retrospect", or from a back date.

"The government can wait till the session ends and bring the ordinance in retrospect," he said.

This, he said, will maintain the continuity of the law. The third option would be getting the bill passed like regular legislation, an option which the government is also considering.

The government's cautious approach was also reflected when Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, in a press conference on the last day of the first half of the session, said the bill is not a "prestige issue" for the government.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government will hold consultations with different parties and find a way out.

"We are talking to different parties, all channels are open," Naqvi told IANS, adding: "The government will find a way out."

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2015, seeks to replace an ordinance promulgated last December which had amended certain provisions of the 2013 land act passed during the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule.

The key points removed from the earlier law related to the consent clause and the social impact assessment study of land acquisition. The consent clause provided for 70-80 percent of those dependent on the land to agree to its acquisition. The other clause entailed carrying out a study to examine the environmental impact and ensure rehabilitation of displaced people.

The government agreed to nine amendments to the bill to get it passed in the Lok Sabha. These included removing social infrastructure as an exempted category and ensuring that the bare minimum of land required for a project is acquired.


Now 'ghost' teachers haunt medical colleges!
Medical science may not believe in the ghost stories but unethical practices adopted by private medical colleges and unscrupulous doctors in the region have put a big question mark on the standard of education being imparted and the kind of doctors being churned out by these institutions.
With 436 'ghost' teachers being discovered by the Punjab Medical Council (PMC) during its recent inspection of four private medical colleges in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, a major controversy has erupted about the unethical practices adopted by these colleges and doctors.
The PMC team found that the 436 doctors, most of whom were practising in Punjab, were simultaneously serving four medical colleges: MM (Maharishi Markandeshwar) Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Mullana (Ambala-Haryana/240 doctors); MM Medical College and Hospital, Kumarhatti (Himachal Pradesh/84 doctors), Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital, Banur (Punjab/64 doctors) and Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences, Bathinda (Punjab/48 doctors).
The doctors were shown on records of these institutions as faculty members on well-paid jobs even without taking any classes. The PMC inspection revealed that one of the doctors who was heading an institution's own ethics committee figured in the list of ghost teachers.
Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines clearly stipulate that part-time and guest faculty cannot be engaged for regular classes in medical colleges.
Faced with this embarrassing revelation, the PMC has initiated the process to suspend or cancel the registration of the doctors.
"We are issuing show-cause notices to the concerned doctors. Action will follow, based on their replies. If they are actually teaching in these institutes in other states, they will have to be de-listed from the PMC," PMC president G.S. Grewal told IANS.
The PMC has received complaints that the doctors who were shown as faculty members in colleges in three states were running their private health clinics, hair therapy clinics, cosmetic therapy clinics and even offering treatment for heart ailments.
The department of medical education and research in Punjab has initiated an investigation into the findings of the PMC team.
"There is a tendency among some medical colleges, which are mere teaching shops, to show doctors as their regular faculty whereas these people may have never even visited these institutions. Everyone is making a fast buck in all this mess. The kind of doctors that these medical colleges produce is anyone's guess," a senior faculty member at Patiala's Government Medical College told IANS.
Students pay hefty amounts, running in lakhs of rupees, to get admission to these medical colleges.


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