I write to you with regard to the report that was written about me and published in the Telegraph on 19 May 2010 under the headline “Shocking allegations in Dr Bhagat suit”. I object in the strongest terms to the report, which contains a number of serious falsehoods concerning me and my professional status. In particular the allegations that I may be “using the identity of one Dr Kaushik Kumar B Bhagat” and that I may be an “imposter”, are false, scandalous and extremely defamatory. Your reporter did not consider or investigate all the facts before proceeding to write his report and I was not given an opportunity to respond or state my side of the story before it was published. The result is that your report is selective and biased and the malicious and false allegations made by the Botswana Health Professions Council (“BHPC”) against me have been given credibility by your newspaper which they do not deserve. It is only fair that I be given an opportunity to correct and set out the full facts.
In April 2010, I caused summons to be issued against the BHPC claiming damages for defamation arising out of a notice that it published in which it stated that it wished to clarify and inform the public that I am “registered with the Council as a General Physician and not as a Cardiologist”.
Your report concerning me draws its information exclusively from a “plea” that was entered by the BHPC, being a reply in the defamation action to my summons. Your report incorrectly refers to the plea as an “affidavit” which is not the case. If your reporter had examined BHPC’s plea carefully and analyzed the facts and familiarized himself with the legal procedures, he would have seen that in reality the BHPC does not dispute my registration to practice medicine in Botswana as a Physician. The only contention is whether I was registered as Specialist Physician and entitled to practice as a Cardiologist. It should be pointed out to your readers that a “Physician” is in fact a specialist doctor and is not to be equated with a “General Practitioner” which is more commonly known to the public as a “GP”, or a “house doctor”. A Physician is a specialist in internal medicine, which concerns the field of diagnosing and treating diseases of the internal organs. A Physician may specialize further in a particular field, such as for example cardiology, in which event he/she becomes known as a “Specialist Physician”.
The damning aspect of your report concerns an aspect of BHPC’s plea in which it is alleged that I altered a registration certificate issued to one “Kaushik Kumar B Bhagat”, with the intention of assuming his identify and professional credentials. Notwithstanding BHPC’s admission that I am properly registered as a Physician, the report then repeats false and unfounded allegations to the effect that my registration as a medical doctor is not in compliance with the law and that I am not entitled to be so registered, as if these were proven facts. For the record, and this information will become clear during the course of legal proceedings against the BHPC, I have a cousin by the name of “Dr Kaushik Kumar Baloobhai Bhagat”, a Radiologist who currently practices as such in Canada, and who was registered to practice in Botswana, as a radiologist, in 1996 when he worked in a private hospital in Gaborone for a few weeks. He has never been qualified as a Physician, nor has ever practiced as one. Furthermore, following his short stay in Botswana in 1996, he never renewed his registration. It appears that the BHPC has confused Kaushik’s registration as a Radiologist with my registration as a Specialist Physician. It would be inconceivable and preposterous that I would wish to masquerade under the licence of a radiologist (a speciality that is far removed from a specialist physician), or under any other persons’s qualifications for that matter. My practice certificate, which states that I am registered as a Specialist Physician, which could not have been issued in respect of Kaushik as he is a Radiologist and in any event was registered some 4 years before me. No alteration appears on the certificate which was issued by the BHPC and signed by Dr Makhema himself. Any confusion that may have occurred between me and my cousin, is as a result of the gross incompetence or negligence of officials of the BHPC and the allegation that I have altered the certificate and assumed someone else’s identity, when a commission appointed by them has confirmed my qualifications and entitlement to registration, is far fetched and without any substance or foundation whatsoever.
If your reporter took the trouble to investigate what is stated in my summons he would have noted that in February 2002, the Director of Health Services (Ministry of Health) and the Private Practice Committee of the BHPC granted me permission in writing to set up a private Cardiology practice in Gaborone. I thereupon commenced private practice as such and each year for the past 8 years have been issued a registration card by the BHPC granting me permission to continue practice.
Furthermore, in May 2008, the BHPC at the instance of Dr Makhema, convened a team under the chairmanship of Dr Moffat, a senior Specialist Physician in Botswana, inter alia to investigate my qualifications and in particular the validity of my status as a Cardiologist. Pursuant to this in February 2009, after having comprehensively investigated the matter and examined the records, the Moffat commission produced an official report in which it concluded inter alia, that I am “trained in Cardiology and may properly call myself a Cardiologist”. The BHPC’s refusal to accept these findings makes a mockery of its own commission.
I conduct an extensive Cardiology practice in Botswana and have done much to further the interests of cardiac health in Botswana. For the record, I would like your readers to be informed that I qualified as a doctor in Zimbabwe in 1987. I undertook my medical specialization between 1992 and 1998 in the United Kingdom both in Cardiology and Clinical Pharmacology and Internal Medicine.
After completing my training as a specialist I was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London), Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology and a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. Admission to these Societies requires supportive documents, evidence of practice in the field of Cardiology and a demonstration of commitment to the field of Cardiology through clinical work and extensive publications in this field. Furthermore, supportive endorsements by Fellows of the respective Colleges is required, prior to these applications and I was only admitted after deliberation on my applications by a panel of eminent Cardiologists, including the Presidents of both Colleges, in order to determine my credentials and worthiness to be admitted into such Fellowships. I thereafter became entitled to practice in the UK as a Specialist Physician and was issued with a certificate to this effect by the General Medical Council in Britain. In 1998 I was registered by the Health Professions Council in Zimbabwe to practice as a Cardiologist where I did indeed practice for a while. When I first commenced practice in Botswana in 2000 as a locum, I applied for and was granted registration by the BHPC. I commenced practice in Botswana on a full time basis in 2002 as a Cardiologist with the knowledge and consent of the Ministry of Health and the BHPC. I have been issued with a certificate by the BHPC certifying that I am registered as a Specialist Physician. I also hold a Masters in Hospital and Health Service management and a PhD in Cardiovascular Pharmacology (a further sub-speciality of Cardiology).
By repeating the scandalous allegations made by the BHPC, without further investigating the matter, your newspaper has wittingly or unwittingly made itself party to the defamation perpetrated by the BHPC. I accordingly insist that you publish this letter in full in order to set the record straight and make all the relevant facts known to the public. My position will in due course be vindicated by the litigation that I intend to pursue in order to clear my name and uphold my reputation.
Dr Kiran Bhagat