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Why IMA wants a board to lay down rules for international patient transfer

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), which has questioned the Centre’s decision to airlift the critically injured 23-year-old gang-rape victim to Singapore, has proposed the formation of a national board that will lay down the criteria for official international transfer of patients.

IMA’s general secretary Narendra Saini said medical circumstances for such transfers should be clearly laid down by an autonomous body. "The IMA is ready to be part of such a board. It should be an autonomous body so that political compulsions don’t lead to decisions that reflect badly on medical treatment in India."

Shifting the Delhi gangrape victim to Singapore's Mt Elizabeth hospital reflected poorly on India’s image as a destination for medical tourism, say doctors. AP

The dramatic late-night airlift from Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore of the gang-rape victim, who succumbed to organ failure on Saturday, has drawn criticism from doctors who believe the move was motivated by political and not medical reasons.

Saini said the decision of the government had shown India’s medical professionals in poor light and had dented the country’s image.

"It has not only reflected badly on the Indian medical profession but it has badly damaged India’s image as a destination for medical tourism," said Saini.

The IMA, he said, would approach the Health Ministry to communicate their views this week.

In next fortnight, the nodal organisation of doctors in India, has decided to roll out a nationwide campaign on women and healthcare. Flagging some of the issues the campaign will focus on, he said,"Forty per cent of women in India are anemic and most them are from poor and rural families. If you compare the ratio of the malnourished men to women, you will see that women are worse off."

Referring to a shocking example of discrimination against women by their own families when it comes to healthcare Saini said, "Relatives refuse to give blood to their own daughters and daughters-in law. Why this discrimination? I am always disturbed when I go to a hospital. When a daughter-in-law or daughter is anemic even the husband and other members of the family don’t come forward to give her blood. And so when children are born, they are born anemic. Let us come together to hold a one-day blood donation camp for women," he said.

Calling for stricter action against the disturbingly high prevalence of sex selection in urban India, he said, "This is the right time to take up this issue. Let us send out the message that sex selection will not be tolerated and families who do it will be socially boycotted and punished according to the law. The IMA on its part will immediately terminate membership of doctors who are involved in sex selection."