by: Dr Priyanka Saurabh
eople all over the world have seen doctors as gods and why not? God is the one who selflessly gifts life to others. But according to government figures, there are only 10 lakh registered doctors in the country for India’s 1.3 billion people. According to this, there is only 1 doctor for every 13000 citizens in India. The World Health Organization considers a 1:1000 ratio as justified and necessary in this context, that is, it is mandatory to have 1 doctor for every 1000 citizens in our country. But to do this, India will have to multiply the number of doctors it currently has. While there are 58 percent of qualified doctors in urban areas, this figure is less than 19 percent in rural areas.
Due to a lack of qualified doctors, the number of quack doctors in the country is increasing day by day. Due to these quacks, the lives of patients are in danger. The health department is turning a blind eye to this matter. Due to the negligence of the department, quacks are making money. This situation is even worse in villages. In every village in India, many quacks are robbing patients. This industry has become so successful that people are entering this business indiscriminately. In villages, such quack doctors are fooling people by openly running clinics.
Due to the negligence of the health department, a large number of quacks are thriving in the country. Everywhere from villages to cities, such doctors are opening clinics and treating patients who do not even have a medical degree. Most of the doctors are intermediate or graduate pass. When the condition of the patients worsens, they are referred to a private hospital in the city. They also get a commission for this. The burden of this commission also falls on the patient. If we believe, the business of these quacks is going on with the blessings of the health department officials. The ignorance of the top officials of the health department towards these illegal businessmen does not affect their business.
The culture of these quacks (doctors who are neither registered nor have the proper degree) is very dangerous for our health system. The World Health Organization has stated in its report that 57.3% of doctors in India are actually without medical degrees. And, it is not surprising that most of them are found in rural areas of the country.
The Indian Medical Council Act 1956, Delhi Medical Council Act 1997, Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945 state that only a registered doctor can prescribe allopathic medicines. “For the Indian System of Medicine, the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 states that any person other than a practitioner of the Indian System of Medicine who holds a recognized medical qualification and is enrolled in any State Register or Central Register of Indian Medicine is an Indian Will prescribe medicine for patients in any medical and any state.
Apart from this, if anyone else is found doing so, then the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 mentions the punishment of imprisonment which can be up to one year, or a fine which can be up to Rs 1,000. ‘Strict punishment’ is mentioned in clause (27) under the Delhi Medical Council Act, 1997. It can be imprisonment for up to three years or a fine up to Rs 20,000 or both The Indian Penal Code also deals with these cases under sections 429 (impersonation), 420 (fraud), and 120 B (criminal conspiracy).
But despite all this, why is this happening in the country? The reason for this business to flourish so much is the lack of government health services. Also, the government medical officers come from big families and do not like to see patients especially in villages, due to which they focus more on their private hospitals. The reason behind the flourishing of the quack business is the negligence of the doctors posted at health centers. Patients do not get doctors on time at community and primary health centers. Due to a shortage of doctors in the health centers established by the government, the patients of the villages have to resort to these quacks.
The villages are full of doctors without the required degree. Some are becoming doctors after working in a medical store for three years, while some’s ancestors have been treating them. These people provide immediate relief to the patients through painkillers and injections, but the patients are suffering its side effects. These quacks are playing with the lives of patients by treating them with fake medicines. It has also been seen that many quacks are also involved in the drug trade. In such a situation, these clinics running in villages are busy breeding the saplings of drug addicts. But despite information from the administration across the country, no action is taken to crack down on them.
The lives of patients are being played with by these fake doctors. Unregistered doctors are running clinics at many places across the country. Not only this, the names of the clinics are kept on the lines of the clinics of big cities, due to which people get easily influenced. Patients consider themselves to be good doctors and get treatment, but they are not aware that their treatment is being done with the trust of God.
Fake doctors have also collaborated with private hospitals to make this business more profitable. When the patient’s condition becomes serious, they send him there, from where they get profit in the form of commission. The business of fake doctors is flourishing in rural areas. Fake doctors have established branches at the village level and run clinics without resources on the lines of big doctors. Fake doctors prescribe medicines only for which they get a commission. Often such cases are seen that due to treatment by fake doctors, the patient’s life is in danger.
Our education system is also equally guilty of giving rise to such businesses. Every year many fake institutes in the country hand out innumerable fake medical degrees. Politicians have vested interests in such private educational institutions which are promoting all this. The government should rein in such institutions. The Central Health Ministries should work with the district administration across the country to crack down on these quacks and people should also become self-aware that they should go to the government health center of their village instead of going to these quacks.
Rural Panchayats should make efforts in this direction so that there is no shortage of staff and necessary medical service equipment at the health center in their village. If so, then they should demand from the government to get them completed first. Government doctors should be banned from staying at night even where they are on duty. If the rules of service are implemented on every medical worker in rural areas and there is a legal restriction on their private practice, then these quacks will automatically end.
The author is a Research Scholar in Political Science. She can be mailed at email@example.com