KARACHI: Different people have different perceptions regarding ethics. What is right for one person may not be appropriate for someone else. Without ethics, a man or even a society is corrupted.
However, the question arises whether ethics are only relevant to society? What about organisations, institutes or even companies? Do they need to follow principles?
In healthcare an ethical code is particularly important because lives of people are at stake. Ancient Egypt has the first recorded instance of ethics being used in the medical profession. The first known document on this dates back to the 16th century BCE. At around the same time, Babylonian king Hammurabi set the code for physicians and surgeons in his jurisdiction.
There are certain codes that physicians today follow; for instance to keep secret all details of patients who come to them for treatment. And of course, the primary duty is to do all that a doctor can to ensure the preservation of human life regardless of any monetary benefit.
Unfortunately, what we see in Pakistan is a negation of these codes. Doctors do not work sincerely and give top priority to monetary gain and not the health of their patients. This means that if one is wealthy one can get world-class medical treatment while the poor have to get by on treatment at poorly-equipped government hospitals.
A good example of the rot in our healthcare system is the medicines scandal in Lahore in which over a 100 innocent people lost their lives. What happened as a result of it? Did any heads roll? Were any lessons learnt from the horrendous loss of life? Similarly, protests staged recently in Punjab by members of the Young Doctors’ Association led to the closure of several major healthcare facilities, and deprived ordinary people of healthcare access.
It seems as if our doctors and physicians have forgotten their own code of ethics.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2012.
More in LettersBumpy ride