“Quack quack here and a quack quack there…”
These lines from a nursery rhyme appear so funny to tiny tots that they keep on repeating them without realizing what exactly a quack means.
But Dr.Anil Bansal, Chairman of the Anti quackery Cell of the Delhi Medical Council has made it a mission to fight the menace of quacks or unqualified jhola chap medical practitioners playing with the health and lives of the poor and the gullible in Delhi.
In an exclusive interview with India Opines, Dr.Bansal talks of the fight he has undertaken and why he is not willing to give up even though his experience with successive governments has not been very encouraging.
Q- You have been officially fighting the menace of quacks since five years as Chairman of the Cell of DMC. Why is there a sudden spurt of activity on this front again?
A- I have been officially fighting these unqualified medical practitioners for five years but I have been an activist against them for many years because I feel ashamed that my profession, that the oath that we take as doctors is being degraded. This is in addition to the danger that they pose to the health and well -being of society. We have been observing an anti-quackery day on October 2 every year.
But these quacks who outnumber the registered 40,000 doctors in Delhi have once again been in the news because of a judgment of the High Court on May 27 in case related to a death of a patient in Sarita Vihar at the hands of a quack.
Q-But there have been judgments earlier too.
A-This is a landmark judgment in many ways. Normally when we conduct raids we do not get the co- operation from the Police. We were very happy that for the first time the High Court has ordered the Delhi Police represented by the Additional Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra that at least one raid will be conducted in every District of Delhi to catch quacks every month. Which means that since there are 11 Districts in Delhi there should be at least one raid every three days.
The court also set a time- limit to the action by ordering that the Registrars of the Councils set up for this purpose will work in close collaboration with the Delhi Police and “shall respond to the request for verification of a person (as quack) within 24 hours and in any case not less than 72 hours.”
Q-For a layman please explain who is a quack so that he can also identify them.
A-In India there are only four courses which give a degree of a doctor- MBBS (for allopathic), BAMS (for Ayurvedic system of medicine), BUMS (for Unani System of medicine) and BHMS (for Homeopathic system). But a Supreme Court order of 1998 also clearly states that cross- pathy is not permitted, which means that a doctor of each discipline is allowed to practice only his system. The main problem in India is that any doctor who puts up his board starts giving injections and other treatments which he is not supposed to do.
Q- What other degrees are available?
A-There is an institute in Janakpuri that gives degrees in Electropathy and Homeo-Electropathy for a consideration. There is no such degree but in Delhi alone there are 10,000 to 15,000 people who are using the term doctor against their name which is strictly prohibited by the Supreme Court.
Q-Why does your cause appear a losing fight?
A-Health is very low on the priority of the Government. We spend only .9% of the GDP on healthcare. Under the WHO guidelines a developin country should spend at least 10 % of its GDP on healthcare. Even Pakistan spends more than us, let alone US and China. Of this .9% also half goes into corruption.
Another excuse for the inaction on the part of the Police on our complaints is that as of now there is no anti-quackery law in the country. The police says they do not know under which sections of the IPC should they take action. They only have normal sections like 419 and 420 for cheating to fall back on.
Q-Are you hopeful that the Narendra Modi government which has a practicing doctor Dr.Harshvardhan as its Health Minister will take a proactive role in stamping out this menace?
A-We were initially. But the High Court order I told you about came on May 27 and since then there should have been at least 33 raids in three months. But there has been not one. At this rate the day is not far when Delhi will not have any general practioners and quacks will have a field day.
By: Amitabh Srivastava
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