Despite the Delhi government's claim to have made significant improvement in the health sector, the capital city's measures to tackle quackery have been ineffective, revealed a study conducted on the unqualified medical practitioners in India by a Senior Fellow in the Shiv Nadar University.
The study was conducted by Shailaja Chandra, the principal investigator, who is a former secretary to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and a Senior fellow at the university. The study says that the Delhi Medical Council’s (DMC) effort to tackle the menace of quackery is negligible. In the last 10 years, it has issued only 875 closure orders to unqualified medical practitioners in the city.
In 2009, the DMC had published a list of 40,000 registered doctors on its website. Interestingly in the same year, the Association of Medical Consultants published a study which said that there were equal number of quacks operating in the city.
The study further reveals that apart from issuing closure notices, the DMC has also requested the police to register 415 number of cases against quacks, of which 145 cases have been registered.
“The responses received from the DMC show that the council had booked hundreds of cases under the law, but seen over a 10-year period and looking at the large numbers of unqualified medical practitioners operating particularly in the unorganised colonies of Delhi, the action taken by the DMC is insignificant,” says the study.
The study highlighted that there is no co-ordination with the police and hardly any follow-up on the cases is done in the courts. Though the records say that 184 cases were filed on behalf of the DMC in the court, 10 of them were against practitioners of the Indian System of Medicine, of which the council obtained conviction in 40 of them.
Chandra, in her comments, said, “Despite being asked, no response was given on whether the “convictions” ended in imprisonment or fine or acquittal. Apparently no effective deterrent action is being taken against quacks practicing modern medicine.” She added that the situation in other states is unlikely to be any better.
The study also says that in the last three to four years, approximately 200 cases has been filed by the Delhi Bharatiya Chikitsya Parishad (DBCP) against persons practicing Indian Systems of Medicine without the requisite qualification. It further said that telephonic clarification was given by the secretary of the parishad that they do not have the staff to pursue the court cases and the quacks are able to engage well-paid lawyers to represent them.
“Whatever action the DBCP takes is aimed at those who practice the AYUSH systems of medicine without being qualified to do so. Even those cases have not reached any conclusion,” said Chandra in her comments.
It further said, “It is clear that whatever little is done is prompted by the need to show some activity but there is no thinking about what would give the best protection to the consumer and whether the laws need to be modified on the basis of so many years of experience.”
The report further says that each slum in the capital city has 10 to 40 unqualified medical practitioners.
Stating the reasons why quackery finds a suitable place in the slums to breed, the study says that whether it is in a village or a slum, going to an unqualified medical practitioner becomes the first choice because it is both time and cost-effective. “A private doctor would charge Rs 100 as consultation fee and would expect that the medicines be bought from a chemist where the bill would come to an additional Rs 50 or more — even if the medicine is purchased for just two days,” the report says.
An unqualified practitioner, on the other hand, charges approximately around Rs 75 which includes the medicine cost as well.
The study further said, “Most of the labourers said that the public health centre doctors came at their own will and in some cases, did not turn up at all. In the process, they could lose a day’s wages (Rs 300)."
When questioned on the government action, Dr Girish Tyagi, the registrar of the DMC told Firstpost, “There are various agencies involved in the anti-quackery enforcement — the Delhi Police, Chief District Medical Officers, Office of the Drug Controller, the general public are also a part of it. Enforcement against quackery can be successful only by co-ordination among all the agencies.” He also mentioned that not all the cases sent by the medical council have been registered by the Delhi Police.
He also said that there is no study conducted by the government which lets one know as to how many quacks are there. In 2006, a study was conducted by the Delhi government, but the findings of the study was never made public.
Updated Date: May 16, 2017 22:39 PM