Anti-quackery bill - Ifs & Buts
Thousands of quacks are strewn and practicing throughout the country with no medical degree, training, or license to treat patients.
The current law, only provides for one year of imprisonment and Rs.1,000 as fine is implicated if anyone is found practicing medicine without a legal registration in his specific domain.
Indian Medical Association (IMA) finds the present law too lax and lenient for such a heinous crime, when someone’s life could be at stake. The association has appealed for harsher punishment to curb such medical mal-practices.
It is believed that there are approx. 30,000 quacks practising in Tamil Nadu alone. In the month of June on the direction of Madras High Court, IMA submitted to the government a list of more than 2,000 quacks. Following this, the police arrested about 200 quacks and this included professional cooks, masons, nursing assistants and also included some qualified practitioners of ayurveda and Siddha who were prescribing allopathic drugs for patients. These practitioners made an appeal to Commissionerate of Indian medicine seeking help. Sai Prasad, registrar of the Board of Indian Medicine said, “They had genuine degrees and were doing what they were taught to do in government colleges. Some of them are appointed by the government for the district hospitals and PHCs”.
Dr TN Ravishankar, president of the Indian Medical Association in Tamil Nadu wasn’t happy with this explantions and countered, “Physiology and anatomy could be the same. But pharmacology is not. In MBBS, students read pharmacology for 120 hours but siddha students are taught just for 20 hours. We have to ensure there are no mistakes made at emergency situations.” His colleague Dr K Prakasam who is chairman of the quackery eradication committee, elaborated that the siddha practitioners were using antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines, painkillers and even habit-forming drugs like antidepressants. “They were not emergency medicine,” he added.
The Tamil Nadu health secretary said that an anti-quackery bill will be tabled in the Assembly soon. The anti-quackery bill aims to prescribe a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for quacks but allows Siddha practitioners to prescribe allopathic drugs in emergency situations. This is not acceptable to the allopathic doctors. They will most likely appeal against this and make even decide to take it to the courts.