Dr Thomas A Kuruvila
In the tourism parlour, Kerala is touted as God’s own country. In the health parlour, judging by the current scenario, it can be touted as Quack’s own country.
In the Malabar region alone ,there is estimated to have around fifty thousand quacks practicing medicine mostly Homoeopathy.
The historic reason attributed to this was the absence of any mention of the word Homoeopathy in the Madras Medical Regulation Act in the erstwhile Malabar region which was under the then Madras Presidency. Consequent on the formation of Kerala State by the merger of Travancore-Cochin and Malabar all other laws prevalent in Travancore- Cochin was enforced in the unified Kerala except Medical Practitioners Act. What a pity?
Even for starting a small shop one require license from a competent authority. But in the highly literate and emancipated state f Kerala anybody can start a medical practice without any questions being asked. Gradually such quacks start organize themselves and hold their state conferences in which ministers and other dignitaries attend giving them credibility and social status.
Homoeopathic education was started in Kerala way back in 1958 and at present there are 4 colleges imparting Graduate and Post graduate level studies. There are around 10,000 academically qualified Homoeopaths in Kerala. The doctors and the civil society have been clamouring for a Medical Practitioners Act for the whole of Kerala for the last 50 years. Even though ,the Central Council of Homoeopathy Act was enforced all over India in 1974, the authorities are reluctant to implement it due to the organized clout of the quacks. Any number of efforts were made- many of them half hearted, to legislate a Medical Practitioner’s Act. But none of them bore fruit.
The present Govt. has also started steps to legislate an Act and discussions were already held with the public. The stumbling block is the question of accommodating the unauthorized practitioners. This can be done only according to the provisions of the CCH act alone and in that case 90% of the quacks will have to be thrown out. Besides any Act formulated contravening the provisions of CCH act will not stand legal scrutiny. This is a piquant situation. Any further delay in enacting a law will cause increase in the number of quacks.
As if these quacks are not sufficient, a hoard of “specialized” quacks has arrived In Kerala. Yes, the Piles and Fistula quacks from West Bengal who is setting up shops through out Malabar offering “money back guarantee”. They are brazenly displaying billboards near big hospitals. These quacks, barely out of their teen are claiming to practice some traditional medicine. But in practice, what they do is heinous crime. They are scalding the anal orifice of the hapless victim by a mixture of Hydrochloric acid and Nitric acid and treating the resultant ulcer by strong antibiotic and analgesics used in veterinary practice. And they are charging in thousands for this crime.
Majority of the victims end up with fibrosis and life time suffering. Due to shame they silently suffer without complaining. What these quacks do is crime against humanity. But who cares. An empathetic assessment as why even educated and middle class people go to these quacks reveal the reality that the mainstream treatment have failed to give relief/ cure to the patients with Haemorrhoids, fistula, and anal fissure. Time is overdue for a widespread campaign for educating people against these charlatans.
At present Kerala is witnessing an organized drive against fake god men who are exploiting people in the name of religion and belief. A more intense drive is required against these” specialized “quacks who are causing lifelong misery to the people. It is quite unfortunate that in Kerala anybody can do anything unlawful with no authority to question. This is very very dangerous. In the wake of the drive against fake swamis, a responsible minister of the state asserted that the Govt. will not ‘permit’ anybody to exploit and deceive the people. But one question sir, whose permission is required in Kerala to exploit and deceive people in any field?
The role and responsibility of civil society and Medical Associations are very great. Indian Homoeopathic Medical Association must take this fight against quackery of every form as a challenge and go ahead till it is totally annihilated.
Courtesy : Dr.M.E.Prasanth Kumar Chief Editor Homeopathic Medical Panorama