What is it ?
Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of lost and the sector where it occurs. We in Pakistan, have been discussing, especially in cable networks & social media about the “corruption” in context of money, especially after PANAMA leaks and very recently the Paradise leaks. However, another big evil in our society has been the “educational corruption”; it usually follows or sometime exclusively exhibits as “intellectual corruption”. I was surprised to see by searching in Google, About 7,960,000 results (0.51 seconds). Like other fields, corruptions in medical and Public Health is not an exception.
Story of Medical education & practise
The story begins with admission in a “private” medical college, where special seats, foreigner seats or donation-based admissions are highly promoted. I am witness to a parent (landlord) who wished to get her daughter admitted and I suggested him to actually use the money (quite a lot at that time) to give it to her as a dowry. He in fact said that she is becoming a doctor to get some good name and a proposal matching to their standards. This follows by the “tuition” system, whereby there is a longer & shorter duration contract along with the guarantee to pass the student; of course all manged by the respective faculty member. Well, leaking paper is of course no exception and even ignoring cheating being widely practised. More interesting is the fact that when an “honest” teacher (usually a Head of Department) sends the results without maneuvering, the respective University staff sends it back mentioning that there is something wrong as 10-15 students have failed in that subject. Thus, the Principal calls him and argues by mentioning that since the parents are paying handsome money, they expect their children to pass each year. The story keeps on for internship whereby cronys are entertained and even the post-graduate exams. in which there are some ‘favourite’ candidates.
The Public Health saga
The Public Health education is even much worse than medical education. Here there is a bigger motive and incentive for owners/managers of the institution to earn money at any cost. This would mean admission criteria will be wavered off, entry exam will be easy, and any candidate having completed 14-16 years of education will be legible to admission. Then, there will be half-a-day, evening , weekend and even no classes and of course exams and results may also be manipulated. The external examiners for thesis will be the ones who are ‘well-wishers’ of that institution. Above all the faculty is told that as long you are able to get the admission of X number of candidates, your job will continue. So the poor faculty, has to do their best to get enough students and have a “good” reputation, so that the cycle keeps repeating.
All the above results, inevitably, into the products who are out there in various institutions and hospitals and serving people and various other stakeholders. There is another dimension to intellectual corruption which is observed in health related institutions, whereby the employees (of any level tend to keep on neglecting the truth & denying the facts, just because that’s not their organization’s ‘punchline’ or more so because they don’t want to get labelled as ‘bad’ guy at the cost of losing their jobs.
The consultancy gimmick
The other intellectual corruption, is practised in awards of contracts, whereby networking, under-table deals or already decided party is unduly favoured. The reports prepared are ‘modified’ to suit all the audiences and only those points are highlighted in big ‘dissemination’ seminars which suits to bot donors and the ones who gets the money; sometimes even for the government department. Highly talented experts sitting in government institutions either keep quite to promote/advocate what the big ‘bosses’ wish to project; they even don’t argue in those high level meetings.
Is this reflecting our society??
Well, one can say that is an echo of a frustrated person, however I can bet that most of us may have encountered, observed or heard stories shared above. How long can we keep on acting like a hypocrite in spite of the fact the truth is something else. We are not only producing but also setting the role models as to who can be successful in the medical and public health career. Can some of us, stand up and play the role of “whistle-blower” and point out the evil-doers. Perhaps we, including myself are afraid to do this. However, I fear that I will, like others may be made accountable for not doing anything against this “zulm”. MY only satisfaction could be that I am trying to show just the tip of iceberg and really fear of the consequences. May be its the reflection of our society which has deteriorated to that extent.