The political doctor

ARE doctors’ political views relevant to their medical practice as long as they treat their patients without discriminating on the basis of religion? Can the profession prevent such biases from affecting the way they practice? Such questions are at the heart of an emerging debate within the profession. The Discussion section in this issue of the journal presents some food for thought on the subject. In any case, all people concerned with health will oppose the imminent closure of relief camps in Gujarat. The profession’s responsibilities in times of conflict – in India and elsewhere – have also been highlighted in other sections of the journal, through excerpts from other publications.

It might be pertinent to refer to a comment by US ethicist Michael Grodin on the 50th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials. Doctors were indispensable to the Nazi ideology, he asserted. Half of the German medical profesion was active in the Nazi party, he said. Others did not speak out. Is this something to think about, if not today, in the future?

How you can contribute to Issues in Medical Ethics

Issues in Medical Ethics, now in its tenth year of publication, has largely been a voluntary effort. To keep it free from bias, we have stayed away from pharmaceutical and other industry funds. We have received personal and institutional grants, besides subscriptions, to sustain this publication. The physical cost of publishing has been on the rise. Being a part of this effort you can contribute, by asking your friends to subscribe to the journal and by identifying people and organisations that will sponsor the effort. We would be happy to chase up your leads. Your most important contribution would be to write for the journal.

Cover photograph: Dionne Bunsha

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