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Now Charak Shapath to replace Hippocratic Oath? Medical board holds talks with colleges

The Hippocratic Oath, dating back to Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates, is an oath of ethics administered to medical practitioners.

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New Delhi: In what could end a practice of several decades, the Undergraduate Board of the National Medical Commission wants the Hippocratic Oath, undertaken by medical students, to be replaced by Charak Shapath, after Charak, known as the father of Ayurveda. The matter was discussed during a meeting of the board with medical colleges Monday.

The Hippocratic Oath, dating back to Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates, forms the edifice of modern medicine. It is administered to medical students when they transition from pre-clinical to clinical subjects, during what is known as the white coat ceremony. The oath pertains to treating a patient to the best of one’s ability and protecting a patient’s privacy among other things. For centuries, doctors across the world have been administered this oath at a time when they are on the verge of entering the world of patient care. The Charak Shapath, written by Charak, is a similar oath that lays down a code of conduct for healers.

Dr Aruna Vanikar, president of the UG medical board, who had chaired Monday’s meeting, told ThePrint, “I would not like to comment. You will get all the information when the notification is out.”

ThePrint reached Sandhya Bhullar, secretary, National Medical Commission, for a comment on the matter but there was no response till the time of publishing this report.

ThePrint also reached Dr Sunil Kumar, Director General of Health Services and NMC member, for a response. He said: “I cannot talk to you about this.”

Another NMC member, Dr Mahesh Verma, told ThePrint: “I just heard that there is some such proposal. Even if there is, it will have to come to the advisory council, of which I am also a member, and will have to be discussed and debated there before something like this can go ahead. The Hippocratic Oath is a very sacrosanct thing. It is the basis of our profession and it brings a lot of ethics and values to the practice of medicine. It is the heart and soul. It is universally accepted and being followed. It is a fundamental foundation of the practice of medicine. It cannot be changed.”

Long time RSS demand

Replacement of the Hippocratic Oath, which is of foreign provenance with something that is from within the country, has been a long-standing demand of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). The RSS has also held programmes in the past where it has administered the oath to medical students.

Some medical colleges in the past have also organised programmes for administering the Charak Shapath, but the Hippocrates oath has been administered to medical students for years now.

In the meeting with medical colleges, a plan to make a 10-day yoga course mandatory for medical students was also discussed. Under this students will be taught Surya Namaskar, Pranayam and meditation.


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