New Delhi: In an attempt to point out yet another irregularity in the selection of the newly elected Medical Council of India (MCI), Dr Kunal Saha, the NRI medical practitioner who is waging a crusade against corruption in the medical field, has identified that the newly elected MCI vice president, Dr C V Bhirmanandham, was previously found guilty of doing an unethical act to help a top political leader in Tamil Nadu. Dr Saha obtained the information from the state health department through some documents received under the RTI Act.
In a recent letter to the union health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Dr Saha pointed out that Dr Bhirmanandham, a cardiologist, recommended T T V Dhinakaran, a leader of the AIADMK party and a Member of Parliament (MP) from Tamil Nadu, who was in jail for alleged violation of the ‘Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974’ to be transferred to a hospital on medical ground in order to avoid the harsh prison environment by issuing a false medical certificate.
Dr Saha, who is also president of People for Better Treatment (PBT), made an urgent appeal with the health minister seeking immediate removal of Dr Bhirmanandham from the MCI under the new law. The ‘Indian Medical Council Amendment Ordinance, 2013’ under which the MCI was re-established last month has a new provision that any member whose inclusion in the council may undermine public interest should be removed from the MCI.
However, any reply from the ministry is still awaited.
Dr Saha told India Medical Times, “There has been absolutely no response from the health ministry till now. Even our repeated attempts to obtain some information over telephone have yielded absolutely no results.”
He further said, “The incidence involving Dr Bhirmanandham which came to light only due to our continued efforts to uncover healthcare corruption underscores the deep-rooted rot in the way new MCI was established by the government. Even more shocking is the fact is that Dr Bhirmanandham is not an ‘elected’ member but came to MCI after being ‘nominated’ by the government – the same government that found him guilty for serious ethical violation.”
“Obviously, the government was well aware about the character of Dr Bhirmanandham but still ‘nominated’ him to represent the medical community at the highest regulatory body in the country. And even after we brought this shameful incidence to the notice of the health ministry and urged the government to remove him under the new provision of law, the government has simply remained a silent spectator. So, there is no denying that the wide-spread corruption in MCI and our entire healthcare system is being condoned by the equally corrupt government,” alleged Dr Saha.
Dr K K Aggarwal, president, Heart Care Foundation of India, New Delhi shared his opinion with India Medical Times, “Since Dr Bhirmanandham was nominated by the government, it must have gone through all his previous records before making an appointment. A procedure is followed while making appointments and any previous charges are always taken into consideration. The government might have dropped the charges and Dr Bhirmanandham must be cleared of the alleged offence on various grounds before being appointed.”
“We as practitioners can only view it as a matter between government and a doctor as government is highest authority to make decision and in the present appointment it must have considered the opinion from all quarters. It was government which charged him for an offence and it is the same government which absolved him. What transpired between government and MCI can be known only after any clarification by ministry in this regard,” he said.
Dr Saha commented, “But make no mistake that Dr Bhirmanandham is not the lone doctor in the newly formed MCI with a tainted past. We previously raised similar concerns with the government with at least 17 other doctors who have also regained entry to the new MCI, all of whom are known cronies of disgraced ex-MCI head, Dr Ketan Desai and their inclusion in the MCI obviously also violated public interest and is against the law. But in this case also, the health ministry has remained absolutely listless.”
“The new MCI was formed only because the previous MCI had to be dissolved because of corruption after Dr Desai was caught red-handed by the CBI for taking bribe (as the MCI president) from a private medical college. It seems that after more than three years later, the new MCI is nothing more than an old wine in a new bottle. We hope that the new AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) government in Delhi will take up these burning issues involving corruption in the healthcare regulatory system,” he said.
Interestingly, Dr Bhirmanandham was also a member of the previous MCI, which was disbanded in 2010 on charges of corruption and he also voted to elect the disgraced Dr Ketan Desai to become the MCI president in 2009.
by Vidhi Rathee