Medical Education Governance in India

IMA moots ethics code overhaul


Mains Paper 4: Ethics | Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Reforms required in health sector


Ethical Studies for Doctors

  1. Can an individual doctor advertise, have a website to promote her practice to compete with aggressively marketed corporate hospitals?
  2. Should the donation of cadaver organs be made mandatory for all?
  3. Is it important for medical students to study ethics throughout the duration of the MBBS course?
  4. Marking a bold departure from the existing code of ethics that covers the medical profession, the IMA is in the process of redefining the code in order to ensure a much more contemporary outlook.

Redefining the Code of Medical Ethics

  1. The current code of medical ethics by the Medical Council of India dates back to 2002.
  2. Much has changed in the medical field since then and many relevant topics do not find a mention in the present code.
  3. IMA would be releasing a handbook on the redefined code of medical ethics.
  4. The handbook would comprise 24 topics that either need to be reviewed or find no mention in the current code.
  5. The code would subsequently be submitted to all the relevant Central Ministries – health, medical education, law and justice and the MCI – for consideration.

(A) For Advertisement

  1. The current MCI norms do not allow doctors to publicise their practice through any type of advertising.
  2. Big private hospitals are constantly promoting their set ups through advertisements in all mediums.
  3. Hence it is essential for individual doctors, especially those who have just begun practice, survive such competition.
  4. The IMA believes that any publicity material should be ethical and approved after scrutiny by the respective State medical councils.

(B) For Doctor-assisted Suicide

  1. Presently doctors cannot give consent for deciding on pulling the plug.
  2. This decision can only be taken by relatives.

(C) For ARTs

  1. Ethical issues around Assisted Reproductive Technology and surrogacy also find a mention in the handbook.
  2. The IMA states that doctors should ethically ensure that surrogates and egg donors are not exploited.

(D) For Organ Donation and Transplants

  1. The IMA also recommends that cadaver organ donations (from brain dead people) must be made compulsory for all unless an individual specifically states that he or she does not want to become an organ donor.
  2. Cadaver organ donations are currently carried out in India only when an individual has explicitly expressed a wish to donate or with the consent of immediate relatives in cases of brain death, creating a shortage of cadaver organs for transplants.
  3. India carries out a high number of living donor transplants as compared to cadaver organ donations.
  4. Presently we have a long waiting list of patients for organ transplants.
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