Expert Talk


Professor Emeritus, Department of Surgical Oncology, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai
The health care industry is unregulated. There are far too many 'nursing home' type of facilities, which often do not have proper infrastructure and expertise, which pose great danger to patients.
Q. What do you think are the problems with the Indian health care industry?

There are several problems with this industry:

  1. The health care industry is unregulated. There are far too many 'nursing home' type of facilities, which often do not have proper infrastructure and expertise, which pose great danger to patients.
  2. The larger facilities are more inclined on procedure based practice rather than to tackle chronic and complex conditions.
  3. Because of the lack of trained doctors and nurses there is excessive use of the ICU which, of course, also brings in profits.
  4. Unnecessary investigations, procedures and operations abound.
  5. Overuse of technology (which again brings in profits!).
  6. Lack of social concern - most facilities, which are required by law to treat a proportion of their patients free of cost do not do so.
  7. Lack of human concern – profit motive being paramount, were ethics takes a back seat. Pre-natal sex determination is a prime example.


Q. Do you think Indian health websites are useful?
Yes, provided they are managed responsibly, providing accurate and unbiased information.


Q. What do you think about our health website?
  Our health website is doing a great job since it meets both the above criteria.


Q. Is it true that breast cancer in women is usually detected late? Why?
lack of awareness about hazards of breast cancer and benefits of early detection and treatment. lack of awareness due to a relatively low incidence of breast cancer in India; thus many women may not have come across anyone suffering from the disease. low social status and self esteem of women whose fears and apprehensions are neglected by their male dominated families. neglect of symptoms due to domestic responsibilities which often take precedence. deferring visits to the doctor or hospital for fear of losing daily wage. fear of cancer treatment and its toxicity and cost and the mutilation that it may involve. recourse to non-scientific and alternative therapies that are ineffective.


Q. How do you think you can improve upon this?
By mounting a massive awareness campaign. But given the many other equally grave health problems in the country, it may not be possible to give breast cancer the necessary priority. Furthermore, deep rooted social problems mentioned above are difficult to change in isolation.


Q. How would you tackle these?
This can be handled by: 1. Greater governmental regulation and vigilance with heavy fines or cancellation of license for defaulters to tackle problems 1, 6 and 7 above. 2. The other issues concern medical ethics and other forms of ethical conduct, that are difficult to rectify and are a reflection of the society we live in.