Drug Pusher or Healer – What are you?...

Few years, after the inspiring  Alma Ata Declaration that proposed the goal  of Health for All by 2000AD, the Indian  Council of Social  Sciences Research and  the Indian Council of Medical Research  set up a  joint study group to review  the health care  systems  in the country and recommend a strategy  to achieve  the Health for All goal. One of the most  intriguing and provocative  observation in this report, which has kept me  wondering all these years was  a call  to vigilance against  the over medicalization of the system since Health  is ‘well being’ and not just ‘disease control’. The committee consisting  of some of the senior most   medical and social science  professionals  in the country observed that “ Eternal  vigilance  is required to  ensure  that the health care  system  does not  get medicalized, that  the doctor drug producer  axis  does not  exploit  the people and the abundance of drugs  does not become a vested  interest  in ill health” As a young  faculty  member of a well known  medical college, I found this call to ‘vigilance’ against  making ill health and drug prescribing  a vested  interest  – a  rude shock considering that doctors often thought of themselves as a noble profession concerned only about the wellbeing of their patients. This  stimulated  a life-long  learning effort  at understanding  the doctor – drug – producer  axis  in reality, identified  by the report  as the major villain and the prescribing  practices  of the doctors  as the key culprit. Two more  observations  of this expert  group based  on extensive  review of current  data and trends  were equally  disconcerting. These were : “One of the most distressing aspects of the present health situation in India is the habit of doctors to over prescribe  glamorous and costly drugs with limited...

Can Ethics be taught ?...

Is there a way to teach or motivate people to behave in a manner that is morally right? This captivating topic has been the subject of intense speculation and study and has thrown up some riveting points of view. The question is whether ethical behavior is ‘caught’ or ‘taught’. A few weeks ago, there was a front page article on a pilot project aimed at teaching ethical behavior in every Kendriya Vidyalaya School across India. ‘Integrity Clubs’ will conduct activities that explore ethical values like integrity, compassion,  honesty, tolerance, love, responsibility and respect. Student members will be called ‘Young Champions of Ethics’ (YCEs) and will spread, through skits, games and debates, the evil effects of corruption, terrorism and unethical practices. In our country that is plagued by an administration rife with malpractice and corruption, this is truly a commendable effort emerging from the Department of Education that will make strides in changing the way our future generations think and behave. Finally we are speaking up and facing the truth about our situation. We must strongly condemn unethical practices and the Government today makes this possible through RTI Acts and other such recourse. Can we accept that individually we are ethical but the ‘system’ is corrupt? Placing the blame firmly where it belongs, with our selves, is the first step to setting right the system. The time for impotent hand wringing is over and each of us is mandated to take steps, however tiny, to bring back ethics into our work and lives.   Which brings us back to the question- can ethical behavior be taught? Certainly, ethics can be taught about, but does this mean that we can ensure that people will begin to behave ethically? Gordon Marino, professor of philosophy at Saint Olaf...