Plan to dismantle physician self governance strongly criticised by World Medical Association

The Indian Government’s plan to dismantle the professional self-governance of Indian physicians has been strongly criticised by the World Medical Association.

In a letter to the Chairman of India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, WMA leaders warn that the Indian Government’s Bill to replace the Medical Council of India would lead to more Indian doctors leaving the country, affecting patient care.

The letter, jointly signed by WMA President Dr. Yoshitake Yokokura and WMA Chair Dr. Ardis Hoven, says that ‘there is absolutely no evidence from anywhere in the world that the regulation of a profession is better done by government’.

‘Professional self-governance is a tried and tested tool for regulating the profession in a responsible and effective way and for protecting it from undue influence, such as economic or political interests’.

The WMA says that professional self-governance facilitates professional autonomy and clinical independence. A shift from a democratically elected, autonomously governed body to a politically established and government directed body would be counterproductive for patients and for furthering the development of the medical profession in India.

The WMA leaders add: ‘India suffers from a strong brain drain, especially of physicians to other countries. Taking away a part of their professional identity will increase dissatisfaction and frustration, and probably lead to an even higher attrition rate.

‘Indian physicians are working and are welcomed and looked after in many places in this world. Making their home country and their communities less attractive would not be wise.

‘With all those factors in mind, we support the efforts of our Indian colleagues to stop or categorically amend this law – for the benefit of Indian physicians and, most importantly, for the benefit of Indian patients and the population’.