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Doctor's Role in Development

Aneeta Minocha

Edited by T.N. Madan  in collaboration with Paul Wiebe, Rahim Said and Malsiri Dias
Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1980, pp. 311, Rs. 75.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 2 September/October 1980

The book is an outcome of a project initiated by UNESCO to undertake cross­-cultural studies of doctors in the context of development and modernization. The role of professions particularly the medical profession in the moderni­zation of developing countries is a matter of considerable interest to sociologists. It is also a challenging task given the lack of agreement on what is to be under­stood by the terms modernization and the role of professions in it. UNESCO should be congratulated for taking it up as a theme on a cross cultural basis. Many questions could be asked in this connection: Medicine is an ancient profession devoted to removal of suffer­ing caused by disease. What new roles and tasks should it now be entrusted with to play the role of modernization expected of it and other professions? What role, if any, was played, and in what manner, by the medical profession in the developed countries in their deve­lopment and modernization; if such be the terms used to characterize them? What should be the yardstick to assess the modernizing role played by any pro­fession? What should be considered the relationship between modernization and development? To what extent professions could be isolated from other features of the society in order to assess their con­tribution? Clarity on these issues is neces­sary to give a perspective on any study on this theme of professions and society. Only then a proper framework of study can be evolved, which will in turn have a bearing on the conclusions drawn. The book under consideration takes up only a few of these questions. The project envisaged that the doctors in the three countries be studied in the context of institutions of national impor­tance. Private practitioners were excluded from the purview of the study from the very beginning, the reason given is that private medical practitioners’ ... are not of the same importance as in affluent countries and, they cannot be expected to answer the health care needs of the community in the same manner and magnitude as institution-based doctors .... Health care institutions are expected not only to provide free service but also to so organize the activities of their per­sonnel as to place public weal above the personal considerations of the doctor’ (p. 6). The basis of these generalizations about private practitioners and institutions is not given. No doubt there are clear advantages ...

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