Doctors hit campaign trail as race to medical council elections heats up

05 December, 2016

Forty-nine candidates are in the fray and more than four panels have been formed in the run-up to the elections to the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC). The elections will be held on December 18.

There are promises galore in the panels’ manifestos, ranging from better doctor-patient rapport and a corruption-free council to fighting quackery and crosspathy (ayurveda and homoeopathy practitioners into allopathy). There is also some controversy, with a controversy after a panel declaring support from a pro-BJP and Shiv Sena body.

Health activist Dr. Abhay Shukla, who is closely following the campaign, said the elections this year are like “mini-Assembly polls”. “The MMC had become a power centre in the Maharashtra’s medical field, and thus the battle has become extremely competitive. But given the way it functions, the body has become more like a coterie of a few doctors,” he said. Dr. Shukla added that the MMC has ignored most of the important work, like clearing cases of medical negligence and checking medical malpractice.

 
 

While it grants and renews doctors’ registrations, as the State’s most important medical body with quasi-judicial powers, the MMC looks into cases of medical negligence and serves as an ethical watchdog. However, disposal has been very slow with over 600 cases of medical negligence pending across the State.

The council comprises 18 members, of which nine are appointed through elections and other nine are made up of five State government representatives and one each from the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, Directorate of Health Services, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr Lalitkumar Anande, chief medical officer, Sewree Tuberculosis Hospital, who is contesting as part of the Maharashtra Medical Professionals panel, feels elected members should regularise all aspects affecting the MMC. “There are so many aspects that the council could work on, including doctors’ issues like violence against them and contracting TB and other infectious diseases. It should take a strong stand on these issues and bring about the changes required,” Dr. Anande, a well-known anti-TB crusader, said.

The Pragati panel has declared that it has the support of the Vaidyakiya Vikas Manch, a pro-BJP body, and the Shiv Sena’s medical aid wing, the Shiv Arogya Sena. This led to heated debates on allopathic doctors taking the support of outfits in favour of crosspathy. However, the Pragati panel silenced their critics by emphasising on their stand against crosspathy.

“Most candidates are members of the Indian Medical Council. What is the point of personal comments and mudslinging? We are all colleagues and should do some good work for the fraternity,” said Dr. Jignesh Thakker, a radiologist contesting as part of the Pragati panel. “The Vaidyakiya Vikas Manch and Shiv Arogya Sena are with us only because they support our ideologies.”

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