Too many quacks ruin city’s health
In an answer to a question put up under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, the Punjab government has pegged the number of quacks in the state at more than one lakh. “Out of 1,000 patients going for regular treatment, 100 reach MBBS doctors, 100 reach superspecialists and the rest 800 go to quacks,” says Dr O P S Kande, chairman of Indian Medical Association (IMA), Punjab Legal Cell.
Similarly, while Ludhiana boasts of reputed medical institutes like CMCH, DMCH and SPS Apollo Hospitals, it also has an alarmingly large number of quacks. They are especially concentrated in areas like Shimlapuri, Salim Tabri, Giaspura, Haibowal, Rahon Road, Tajpur Road, Janakpuri, Sherpur and Abdullapur Basti, which are also strongholds of migrant population. To put it more simply, 1,800 qualified doctors of the city are competing with an army of more than 5,000 quacks who are doing brisk business here. And their favourite area of operation are the suburbs, where poor and illiterate people can be fleeced easily.
And it is not only the quacks who are giving the authorities a tough time, people well versed in one system of medicine, like ayurdevic medicine, are also practicing other forms of medicine. Many ayurveda doctors in the city are openly practicing the allopathic system of medicine.
As per the 1998 Supreme Court ruling in the Mukhtiar Chand case, no doctor can practice a system of medicine that he or she is not well versed in, Dr Kande said.
And the largest number of these medical practitioners are being produced by so called electro-homoeopathy colleges. In 2003, the Punjab government had notified that electro-homoeopathy is not a recognised system of medicine. Despite this, about 17 schools of electro-homoeopathy are being operated in Ludhiana, claiming to have complete infrastructure. Admissions are also on at these institutes for the new academic session.
“After the government’s notification in 2003, hundreds of people got Bachelor of Electrohomoepathy and Medical Science (BEMS) degree certificates issued in back date i.e. before 2003, and started calling themselves doctors. The actual position is that even those who have done BEMS are not allowed to add this prefix to their name,” says Kuldeep Singh Khaira, a BEMS graduate himself who has been struggling for the last one year to get these institutes closed.
A report regarding this was also sent by the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner’s office to former IMA Ludhiana president Dr Gursharan Singh. Dr Singh says that electro-homoeopathy is not a recognised system of medicine.
“Time and again, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab police and the administration to nail these quacks playing with the lives of people. But loop holes in the law help these quacks to carry on with their practice,” he said.
As per the rules of Medical Council of India (MCI), the punishment for quackery is a fine of Rs 1,000 and one year’s imprisonment. “But as per the Indian Penal Code, quackery is a non-cognisable offence, and hence the police cannot arrest the quacks. The court has passed various judgements against quacks but they have not been
incorporated in law,” Dr Kande adds.
IMA Ludhiana vice-president Dr Narotam Dewan says, “We have decided to root out quackery from Ludhiana. The health authorities, police and the medical fraternity will work together.” The president of IMA Ludhiana, Dr Arun Mitra, adds the IMA will ask its members to identify such quacks and submit a list for further action.
Too many quacks ruin city’s health