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Current Challenges for Doctors in South Asia: Not Deprofessionalisation but a New Form of Professionalisation?


· Roger Jeffery University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom)


07/26 | 17:50-18:10 UTC+2/CEST


Western-trained doctors in South Asia struggled to establish themselves as a medical ‘profession’ in the 1920s and 1930s, and these struggles continued into the post-colonial period. The direction of travel is, however, no longer clear. The past 10 years have seen increasing evidence of crisis in doctors’ collective ability to provide a form of self-regulation. The Supreme Courts in both India and Pakistan have suspended the operations of their country’s medical councils in the face of a proliferation of poorly regulated private medical colleges. Practitioners of alternative systems of medicine and unqualified medical practice continue, while new ‘short-course’ doctors take over tasks previously restricted to fully-fledged MBBS doctors. The diversification of the social origins of medical students, with rising numbers of female doctors, threaten their aspirations to high status and earnings. This paper will survey the evidence for a ‘crisis’ across the region or are alternative, stable forms of institutional arrangements emerging.