Journal of Medical Society

: 2016  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 73--74

Teaching medical ethics in India

Brogen Singh Akoijam 
 Department of Community Medicine, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal, Manipur, India

Correspondence Address:
Brogen Singh Akoijam
Department of Community Medicine, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal, Manipur

How to cite this article:
Akoijam BS. Teaching medical ethics in India.J Med Soc 2016;30:73-74

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Akoijam BS. Teaching medical ethics in India. J Med Soc [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 May 6 ];30:73-74
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While the movement of competency-based medical education is gaining ground all over the globe inclusion of ethics, communication skill, and attitude in the medical education curriculum is also mooted. The movement of bioethics implementation in medical curricula really started with The Pond Report, [1] which considered the area of ethics in medical education and made recommendations for the development of ethics teaching. Subsequently, the General Medical Council's Report [2] on undergraduate medical education, "Tomorrow's Doctors" recommended the inclusion of ethics and legal issues relevant to the practice of medicine as a knowledge objective and an awareness of the moral and ethical responsibilities involved in individual patient care and in the provision of care to populations of patients as an attitudinal objective.

In India, the Medical Council of India's "Vision 2015" document proposes to include medical ethics in the curriculum with a 2-month program at the beginning of medical graduate training. [3] We have enough reasons for initiating such move, deteriorating doctor-patient relationship, corruption among doctors and health sectors, unethical practices, etc. The recent article by Berger [4] in British Medical Journal is a reminder for us to really introspect ourselves.

As of now, only a handful of health institutes in India have bioethics in their curriculum. Indian Council of Medical Research, in the early 2000's has started imparting bioethics training mainly focusing on research ethics. While it is interesting and important to learn from history, we cannot be complacent by the notion that bioethics teachings have been there in India from the Vedic and Samhita periods, some 5000 years ago. A concerted and conscious effort is needed to complete the initiative of teaching bioethics in medical schools.

First of all, the policymakers should commit strongly to include bioethics in the medical curriculum. A policy needs to be framed involving all stakeholders, and then the wide circulation of the policy should be done. Capacity building, in terms of bioethics as well as medical education including research, needs to be carried out first. While India is expanding bioethics training centers, we can rope in those, who have graduated from foreign institutes for the time being. "One man or experience tells everything" attitude should be abandoned. Bioethics curriculum should be made by drawing in expertise from different parts of the country to capture the diversity in culture. Before implementing bioethics teaching, health institutes need induction and motivation. Teaching of ethics cannot happen in its own vacuum. It has to be integrated vertically as well as horizontally in the curriculum. A roadmap for implementing bioethics curriculum at the institutional level may be useful. After implementation, assessment and evaluation at regular intervals (medium and long term) of the initiative involving relevant stakeholders are a must to inform the future course of action. Finally, this new vision can and will see the light of day only with the concerted endeavor of various stakeholders with the MCI overseeing the whole process [Figure 1].{Figure 1}


1Institute of Medical Ethics. The Pond Report: Report of a Working Party on the Teaching of Medical Ethics. London: IME Publications; 1987.
2General Medical Council (Education Committee). Tomorrow′s Doctors: Recommendations on Undergraduate Medical Education. London: General Medical Council; 1993.
3Medical Council of India. Vision; 2015. Available from: target="_blank" href="". [Last accessed on 2016 Feb 10].
4Berger D. Corruption ruins the doctor-patient relationship in India. BMJ 2014;348:g3169.