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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Government should enforce restrictions on medical practice by non-qualified persons as well as cross practice in India

Author(s): Bansal RK, Verma A

Vol. 32, No. 2 (2007-04 - 2007-06)

LETTER TO EDITOR

Year : 2007 | Volume : 32 | Issue : 2 | Page : 161

Government should enforce restrictions on medical practice by non-qualified persons as well as cross practice in India

Bansal RK, Verma A
Department of Community Medicine, Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education and Research, Surat - 395 010, Gujarat, India
Date of Submission 20-Sep-2007

Correspondence Address:
Bansal R K
Department of Community Medicine, Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education and Research, Surat - 395 010, Gujarat
India

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
How to cite this article:
Bansal RK, Verma A. Government should enforce restrictions on medical practice by non-qualified persons as well as cross practice in India. Indian J Community Med 2007;32:161
How to cite this URL:
Bansal RK, Verma A. Government should enforce restrictions on medical practice by non-qualified persons as well as cross practice in India. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2007 [cited 2007 Nov 30];32:161. Available from: http://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2007/32/2/161/35673

One of the big challenges facing quality medical care in India is the fact that untrained/unqualified people or quacks can practice medicine with impunity. These people may not even have studied alternative medicine in any recognized school of medicine. Many of them have served as assistants to some doctor before deciding to switch over to full-fledged medical practice on their own, while some may have been tradesmen etc. with no medical exposure. Apart from this, a large number of practitioners of alternative systems of medicine exist in India, many of whom often practice allopathic medicine even though they have no training in this system.

A recent Supreme Court decision had restricted medical practitioners from practicing any system of medicine that they had not studied. For example, an ayurvedic practitioner cannot prescribe allopathic medicines or vice versa . The court had labeled such practitioners as 'quacks.' Mechanisms to enforce the Supreme Court's ruling have not yet been put into place. Some time ago, the government of Gujarat had agreed with the Surat municipal corporation's decision to register all health-care facilities within the corporation limits, as is specified in the bylaws of the Bombay Nursing Home Registration Act, 1949; this was to be followed by an official government notification. While approving of this idea, the state government had asked all municipal corporations across the state to implement the rule.[1] Under this Act, along with compulsory registration, all health-care facilities are required to regularly communicate their place of operation; the number, qualifications, and experience of their staff; details of communicable diseases attended to; and any births and deaths. They were required to maintain patients' registers, including treatment details, and adopt correct procedures for the handling of biomedical wastes. The Surat municipal corporation is contemplating strict enforcement of this Act and to take stringent action against defaulters. In a recent move, [2] the Surat city police conducted raids at six places; two quacks were arrested, while six others managed to escape. This action was taken following complaints by the officials of the Surat Municipal Corporation. This issue is being viewed very seriously by the Surat Municipal Corporation and is now a continuing process.

This is indeed a welcome step and will be of great use in weeding out quacks posing as medical practitioners in the various cities of Gujarat state. It should help promote ethical practices, as qualified practitioners today have to compete for patients with these quacks. It would be commendable if such a measures were implemented in all the urban and rural areas of India. Such a step would also encourage young doctors to set up practice in rural areas that presently have a high density of quacks.

The right to be treated by a qualified medical practitioner in times of sickness is one of the basic health-care rights to which all citizens are entitled. It is very difficult for a person, when ill and in distress, to judge whether or not a person posing as a doctor is appropriately qualified. Ascertaining of this fact is a basic regulatory function of the government. It is surprizing that despite so many representations and efforts made by the Indian Medical Association, quacks continue to practice in India. The declaration of this notification will also lead to an improved reporting of births, deaths, and communicable diseases in the region.

References

1. Express news service. Quacks find SMC's decision a bitter pill to swallow. The Indian Express- Surat Newsline: Vadodara; Jan 18, 2003. I.
2. Rajasthan Patrika. Raids on quacks. Rajasthan Patrika: Surat; April 19, 2006. p. 14.

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