Do we need an introduction for corruption in India? Of course not. This country is leading as one of the most corrupted nations of the world. The most corrupted sector in India has been considered to be the medical and health service sector, as can be seen in the following instances. On one hand, we feel proud to say that Indians have achieved superb success in medicines, in technological developments in medical science, and in healthcare facilities. On the other hand, it is a matter of great shame and disgrace that the healthcare sector in India is reputed to be involved in unethical and corrupt practices since a very long time.
Common Areas of Corruption in the Health Sector
- Construction and maintenance of health facilities
- Purchase and supply of medicines
- Distribution and use of medicines, instruments and services
- Regulation of quality in products and facilities
- Admission into hospitals
- Clinical trials and laboratory diagnostics
- Admission into medical colleges and passing of medical examinations
- Appointment of medical professors and doctors etc.
Some Reports on Corruption in Healthcare
A number of sting operations has been undertaken recently to show the corruption scenario in health sector in India.
The sting operation “Operation Jonk” in Delhi on 22nd July 2014 by News Nation, a Hindi News Channel, disclosed the connection between the doctors and diagnostic centres and how they are deceiving patients by conducting unnecessary tests and doctors getting commissions in return.
Another sting operation was in Mumbai. The sting operation undertaken on July 16th 2014 revealed how a pathology Lab registered in Navi Mumbai is run by a doctor registered with Karnataka Medical Council and he does not even the sign reports himself. In fact, the city has become more famous in recent time as a hub for illegal laboratories.
According to a recent report published in the Time of India (July 13th 2014), the costs of medical devices like stents and pacemakers at hospitals are double or triple the normal market price. And per hospital’s rules and policies, the patient has to buy the equipment from the hospital where he has been treated and not from outside.
We always read about the unnecessary use of ventilator support to charge extra costs when the patient has already expired. Lots of unethical practices are seen in organ transplant like as liver and kidney.
Last year, in “Satyameva Jayate” a social program in Star Plus, Aamir Khan, the anchor and the producer had focused on healthcare services in our country. He pointed out some instances where corruption in health sector was evident.
He started the program with the story of a young boy who had gone through four surgeries because of an infection in his leg, which could have been otherwise treated simply with medicines. In the same episode, a Mumbai based pathology doctor, revealed that he overcharged his patients for medical tests as he had to pay a bribe to the doctors. Another case that was cited was the unnecessary hysterectomies conducted on rural women at a village in Andhra Pradesh.
These are just few instances. The list is endless. If we visit the remotest areas, more shocking and unthinkable situations will come up.
Impact of Corruption in Healthcare Sector in India
No doubt, corruption has a severe impact on the society. It has not only affected the health industry and the economy as a whole, but also the people of the country, especially the poor and the common people. The results are evident:
- Low-quality healthcare facilities that do not fulfil our needs.
- Government hospitals and health centres in rural areas are in shabby conditions.
- Lack of access to medicines and other basic healthcare facilities for poor patients.
- Huge medical bills
- Incomplete treatment of patients
- Circulation of fake or inappropriate drugs, goods and equipment in the market
- Spread of diseases and no control of infectious diseases like dengue
- Death of patients for wrong treatment or inadequate services
- Unnecessary medical tests
- Unqualified and inefficient doctors
- Healthcare professionals in the vicious cycle of unethical practices
- Loss of faith in the system
Better Regulation needed
Corruption in the health sector is an issue concerning ethics too. If the government, the people, the healthcare professionals, the providers, the social organizations do not take a collaborative approach, this problem will perpetuate more. We need strict rules and policies to counter corruption. We need better laws for the Healthcare system. We need to educate the patients and the people as a whole. Strict actions need to be taken against the corrupted people representing the health sector. India’s present health minister, Harsh Vardhan, in a recent press conference, has strongly alleged corruption in the $74 billion healthcare industry of the country. But, at the same time, he also assured that his government will do a complete clean up and eradicate corruption from the healthcare sector very soon. But when, time will tell!!!