‘The Contested Terrain of Medical Practice:
Significance and possibilities’
Dr. Indira Chakravarthi,
The dominant attitude towards technology in medicine and health is largely that of the notion of technological imperative. Namely that there will be advances in medical technologies, which can be delivered only through resource intensive hospitals and highly trained doctors and specialists. New technologies in medicine are taken as a given, as autonomous activities. The accompanying problems, such as that of irrational-indiscriminate use and their high cost, are looked upon as a necessary evil, a `price that has to be paid for the benefits of the technology’. It is not widely known that within the medical profession there is questioning of technology, there are debates and reservations over the uncritical reliance on technology, over its possible gains and losses to medicine. There have been calls for technologic restraint and for rational use, and to adopt a patient-oriented approach to problems rather than a problem-oriented approach to the patient. This paper looks beneath this appearance of necessity of high- technology to document alternative practices by which doctors trained in the dominant clinical bio-medicine are providing appropriate-low cost-rational medical care; and explores the implications of such practices for medical care, for the larger public health system.
Dr. Indira Chakravarthi is a Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.