Sunday, November 20, 2016

Why do health laws in India leave so much to be desired ?

Since doctors are medical experts who treat patients on a regular basis, one would expect that their inputs would be very helpful for the government when they're designing healthcare policy. However, we find that doctors very rarely get their voice heard in drafting these policies , and that's because doctors don't perform well in committees.

This is because most doctors want to be effective and act - they want to do constructive things with their time - concrete stuff which has tangible results . They think that just talking in a meeting is a waste of time , which is why they don't like attending committee meetings which sometimes go on forever and ever. They hate having to listen to a lot of hot air and wisdom spouted by bureaucrats.

Also, they are naive and don't understand a lot of the backroom politics which go on during these committee meetings to draft policy. This is why they're very easy to manipulate.  They are sometimes goaded by activists as a result of which they lose their temper , and also their clout. Often they're used as patsies by the bureaucrats . These officers who sit in meeting all day long are masters at manipulating them, because that's all they do. They are experts at recording the minutes and then manipulating them to suit their hidden agenda,  which is why they find it very easy to get the doctors to act as puppets.

For example, they will put a doctor's name down as part of the official committee appointed to draft the policy, thus paying lip service to the fact that they have invited inputs from the medical profession. The selected doctor is very pleased with himself because this means that he's been recognised  by the Government as being a wise and influential voice in the medical community, and has been selected amongst his peers. However, the bureaucrats will then change the venue or the timings of these meetings at the last minute. They know that doctors are busy clinicians, who will not be able to attend the meeting because they have prior medical commitments.

This means that the doctor often just acts as a dummy figure head  who is a committee member. He is manipulated so cleverly that he is not able to provide any useful inputs to the deliberations of the meeting , as a result of which the policy draft is very one-sided. Doctors get outmaneuvered by the bureaucrats and activists, who are much smarter politically , and much savvier than doctors as regards these matters. By the time the doctor gets wise to their tricks, it's too late because the damage has been done.

This is the reason why so many health laws in India leave so much to be desired. Because they are hamstrung by these machinations, the doctors on these committees are not able to represent the voice of the medical profession and their patients effectively.

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