As quackery thrives, people ask whom to trust

  • Javaid Malik
  • Publish Date: Aug 19 2018 10:16PM
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  • Updated Date: Aug 19 2018 10:16PM
As quackery thrives, people ask whom to trust

Illegal clinics and laboratories coming up at every nook and corner of the Valley is a big question mark on the state of healthcare, but the recent action by the government is ‘better late than never,’ writes Javaid Malik


The Jammu and Kashmir Government sealing as many as 47 illegal clinics in Kashmir has once again brought to fore the poor state of healthcare in the Valley. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can open a medical shop and start prescribing medicines to the people. The big question is how can anyone open a medical shop without a license? Even if he manages to get one, how can he then start treating patients? Role of the chemist is confined to just selling drugs and nothing more. This line has to be drawn to save people from dying. 

Unfortunately in Kashmir anyone having a stethoscope and an apron starts pretending to be a doctor. The quackery is emerging as a big challenge for the people as well as the government.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan while talking to the Kashmir Ink said, “Most of the sealed clinics were run by the people who did not have the license. Till now we have sealed 47 clinics and in coming days many more will be locked.” Khan said that the action against these clinics was taken after he received multiple complaints from the common people. “Verifications conducted by different agencies opened a Pandora’s box,” he said.

The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir said that it’s unfortunate that these “merchants of death” have no respect for human lives. “They won’t be allowed to play with the lives of people,” he added. 

During the past few years medical shops and the private clinics have come up at every nook and corner of the Valley. One can see huge rush of patients outside the chemists’ shops in morning and evenings. Everyone wants to get well fast and no one wants to fall sick. In the process they opt for a shortcut.

President of the Doctors Association Kashmir, Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan, is of the opinion that quackery has assumed an alarming proportion in Kashmir and government needs to act to save people from this menace. “Quackery is more common in rural areas as the government-run health centres don’t have adequate staff. If Government wants to overcome this menace then it should deploy doctors in the rural areas,” he said.

Dr Nisar said that these quacks are responsible for the overuse of antibiotics and steroids, which destroy the immune system of a patient. “Anyone who takes a steroid feels good but these steroids destroy the kidneys of the patients. People have become resistant to antibiotics and these drugs don’t work anymore,” he added.   

He said that people need to become health conscious and think about setting up “mohalla clinics” in their areas. “The concept of mohalla clinics is catching up fast across the globe. We need to give it a serious thought,” he added. 

Last week Block Medical Officer Pattan seized an illegal clinic which was run by a fake woman doctor. The clinic had no registration. Mostly young boys and girls used to visit the clinic for “hormone therapy.” The seized drugs included medicines for hormonal preparation and huge quantity of steroids.

As many as 11 illegal clinics were sealed during raids in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. These clinics, according to the officials, were run by unregistered and untrained technicians. The sealed clinics included 7 dental clinics, 3 clinical laboratories and one x-ray clinic.

On August 2, 2018 police had arrested a quack from Pattan. The quack was running an orthopaedic practice and three health clinics where hundreds of patients were treated daily. After his arrest, it was found that he had a fake doctor’s degree and he was a quack.

Another glaring fact which came to fore during the drive against these illegal clinics that eleven such clinics were run by the government teachers in north Kashmir. After these clinics were sealed, health officials had informed the Chief Education Officer that the persons caught treating patients and running pharmacies were serving government teachers. A PHE employee was also suspended for running an illegal clinic.

Soon after the teachers were caught treating the patients the Government had said that stern action would be taken against the teachers for posing as doctors and putting the lives of people at risk.      

“The officials have become active after the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir passed the strict instructions. Had the Div Com not passed the directions these clinics would have thrived under the very nose of the officials,” said an analyst.

He suggested that the government should also “plug the loopholes” within the system. “It’s impossible that these illegal clinics would run without the patronage of a few officials. The initiative of the government to nail the owners of such clinics is a welcome step but the black sheep within the system need to be identified and dealt with sternly,” the analyst added.      

The recent raids on the illegal clinics across Kashmir have created ripples as the people don’t know whom to trust. Besides these clinics many laboratories are also operational in different parts of the Valley. These diagnostic centres charge huge amounts for various tests they conduct but on many occasions patients have complained that test reports differ from one laboratory to another.  

Another factor which medicos usually complain about is that the untrained technicians are not aware about how important the sterilisation process is. During the past few years many cases of people getting infected due to use of unhygienic syringes have come to fore. “Use of unhygienic syringes leads to diseases like Hepatitis A, B, C and other life threatening diseases,” said a doctor.

He said that awareness has to be created about all these “risk factors” among the common people. “The common masses have to accept that the clinics and the other places which they visit are not that safe. They should avoid visiting fake clinics,” he added.

The medico said that people should avoid self medication and visit a doctor rather than approaching so-called practitioners in their area. “Only a doctor can diagnose what is wrong with a patient, quacks cannot,” he said.

Healthcare is a priority across the world but in Jammu and Kashmir this vital sector has been ignored. Quacks are minting money, while doctors, who could have served their people, are still waiting for jobs. It is not less than an irony!

The people at the helm should realise that sealing illegal clinics is just a short term solution. They need to employ doctors and send them to the places where people suffer and die as they don’t get proper treatment.