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2016: President, World Medical Association
The Hindu Business Line, November 26, 2016
Desai is a person who evokes extreme reactions in the medical fraternity. And the advertisement was an endorsement by Desai loyalists in the face of allegations of corruption by his detractors.
Ketan Desai, a former President of Medical Council of India is appointed as the President of the World Medical Association.
But even as the WMA stands by its new President, reactions to the appointment range from vocal support to mute discomfort and outright indifference to threats of fresh legal challenges in the Supreme Court.
Expressing discomfort at the appointment, a section of young doctors said that an Indian representative to the WMA should have been someone whose reputation had not been compromised. Especially when India's healthcare and medical system are criticised for corruption and alleged links with drug companies.
Ironically, Desai at one point had been hailed a hero for taking on corrupt practices in the pharmaceutical industry, where doctors were wooed with gifts or junkets.
That image though was punctured when Desai was allegedly caught on a bribery case. The MCI (Medical Council of India), the watchdog body he had headed, has also came in for stinging criticism from a Parliamentary panel. And the MCI has since been prescribed an overhaul.
But the criticism heaped on the MCI and its former-head notwithstanding, Desai is the quintessential come-back man, as he gets appointed to top jobs. Many scratch their heads and wonder, is it Desai’s clout or goodwill?
While Desai has in the past denied allegations against him, WMA’s Nigel Duncan explains the President appointment with: “To the best of our knowledge all criminal charges have been dismissed against Dr Desai.”
Giving a more detailed explantion, IMA’s recently elected President KK Aggarwal says, “Dr Desai has never been convicted.” Desai joined WMA as a nominee of the IMA, and the “IMA does not find any merit in the stayed court case,” he adds, referring to the Delhi Patiala House case, stayed by the Supreme Court. Unconvinced, Kunal Saha, a non-resident Indian doctor who had fought and won a landmark medical negligence case in the Supreme Court, is planning to challenge Desai’s WMA appointment in the top court. Desai had been arrested as the head of the MCI on bribery and corruption charges and was out on bail after months in jail, he says.