Action against quacks

THE Supreme Court of Pakistan, on Friday, directed the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission to shutdown the so-called clinics of all the quacks in the province within a week or else face action. A three-member Bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah also took notice of dropping of an inquiry against a fake doctor by the KP Chief Minister, with CJP expressing surprise as to how a matriculate did job as an MBBS doctor in the main public hospital — Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar for about two years.
Health experts say quackery is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the country and most of the victims are poor with no access to quality healthcare. There is growing evidence that a significant number of quacks belong to medical field who are usually non-physician grade health professionals. Some of them do this after retirement from a government job while others do it as a private practice along with their regular government job. According to the Pakistan Medical Association data, there were 100,000 quacks running clinics and maternity homes in different parts of Punjab alone, especially in the overly populated and slum areas. There are about five hundred thousand quacks in other provinces including over seventy thousand in Karachi. These quacks run full advertising campaigns not only through wall chalking but also through newspapers, magazines and television channels luring innocent people and playing havoc with their health and money. There are reasons to believe that the rapid spread of Hepatitis, HIV and other blood borne diseases has much to do with this malpractice. Doctors lament that kidney failure occurs quite often to people who go to these doctors as they use medicines to increase their hormones. Media reports also revealed a man claiming to be a doctor in Hyderabad tried to treat his patient with injections meant for animals. In Punjab, the situation is gradually improving with the launching of PM’s Health Card Scheme which has afforded an opportunity to the poor to get quality medical treatment free of cost but situation in other provinces is still precarious. The orders of the apex court to the KP Government to take action against quacks in one week are quite relevant but they need to be pursued to ensure their full implementation and similar vigilance may be exercised in other provinces as well.

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