Medical Ethics - the Evolving Paradigms in India
Though India has a strong and enviable legacy of ethics related to patient care, the discipline of Bioethics is still in its infancy in the country. Bioethics, an integral part of modern medical practice and research, is gradually percolating to the fields of medical education, research and practice, though not at a commendable pace. The Medical Council Regulation Act that guides the medical practice in the country and the Guidelines on biomedical research involving human participants are yet to gain widespread popularity among the practitioners as well as researchers. The Medical Council Regulation Act, drafted almost two decades back, with modifications instituted several times, still remains to be modified or even rewritten to suit the current situation. The medical profession during this period has undergone a sea of changes and the demarcation line between ‘profession’ and ‘healthcare industry’ is fast thinning out due to various reasons including the growth of ‘profit oriented’non-government and corporate sectors in healthcare. Added to this is the growing menace of attacks on hospitals and healthcare providers. Medical Council Regulations, drafted with ‘single doctor- single patient’ and their one-to-one relations in mind is fast losing its relevance and needs to be revisited. Similarly, institutional mechanisms for overseeing research involving human participants needs to be strengthened. Ethics education needs to take a centre-stage in Medical Education and Ethics Committees, both clinical as well as research need to have more professionals trained in Bioethics. The Medical Councils at the Centre as well as at the regional levels need to have more ethics professionals and the existing situation demands for paradigm shifts in ethics related to medical practice and research in India.
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