Incoming World Medical Association head under a corruption cloud

Ketan Desai after his hearing at a courthouse in Lucknow on June 27   

The World Medical Association, which is supposed to encourage high ethical standards among doctors, is in turmoil over its incoming president, Dr Ketan Desai, of India.

Dr Desai, a 58-year-old urologist, is fighting allegations that he corruptly conspired to lobby to allow a medical school to add more students. India’s legal system often works at a glacial pace, so charges which were brought in 2009 and 2010 are unlikely to be resolved by 2016, when he is scheduled to take office.

The WMA represents doctors in over 100 countries and the prestigious British Medical Association and the American Medical Association are both affiliates.

Reuters journalists have been investigating the imbroglio. Dr Desai told them in a letter: “I am and have been innocent” and that “in not a single case any allegation against me has been proved.” He insist that he is a victim of “a continuous malignant and malicious campaign … of absolutely false and concocted allegations.”

However the Reuters journalists are sceptical. Although Dr Desai’s supporters believe that all charges have been withdrawn, it appears that this is not the case. The WMA appears to have relied almost entirely on information supplied by Desai and the Indian Medical Association – of which he was president from 2001 to 2002.

“The whole force of the WMA is its moral authority,” Caplan told Reuters. “You can’t have a compromised leader, you just can’t.... If you push against torture, if you try to defend doctors in jeopardy from totalitarian regimes, if you try to speak up about getting more care for the poor, people will just point toward your president and say: ‘Why should we care? You have a leader who is morally suspect. You’re not in a position to lecture us about anything.’”

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | corruption, india, ketan desai, professional ethics, world medical association

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

comments powered by Disqus