Spread of HIV and hepatitis accelerates as quackery peaks

Doctor says it is civic responsibility to point out dishonest practices going on in our areas

Ali Ousat August 30, 2017

LAHORE: If you just want to get a rare glimpse into quackery and how it ruins public’s health mercilessly, you can read the news emanating from a small village of Chiniot a couple of days ago.

More than 200 people turned out to be hepatitis positive and 42 people were diagnosed with HIV after small blood screening. All of them used to go to quacks, who used to use one syringe on multiple people.

Clinics gear up to battle HIV, hepatitis

Punjab Healthcare Commission Chief Operating Officer Dr Muhammad Ajmal expressed serious concern about increased business of quacks around Punjab. He said, “Due to rigorous campaign against this menace, we have sealed 5,700 clinics run by quacks in different areas of the province.”

Talking to The Express Tribune, he said that it was for the first time in Punjab that a thorough campaign had been started to crush the quacks’ business.

“Only in Lahore, we have closed down 125 fake clinics, 150 laboratories and fined Rs37 million to such clinics which were not following standard operating procedures (SOP),” he said.

He also advised people that it was their civic responsibility to point out such false practices which were going on in their areas, so that well-coordinated operations against these criminals could be conducted.

However, according to a source in the health department, many major hospitals in Lahore were full of patients and it was not possible to eliminate quackery until the government provided healthcare facilities to these people.

According to him, these quacks were very powerful. “Some of them are supported by politicians,” said the official.

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According to the Pakistan Medical Association data, there were 100,000 quacks running clinics and maternity homes in different parts of Punjab, especially in the overly populated and slum areas.

“Even in the provincial capital, these quacks are openly running their businesses and no one dares to stop them,” the official added.

Young Doctors Association’s (YDA) Dr Salman Kazmi agreed that there was need to accelerate the campaign rigorously as the menace of quacks was ruining the health of the public mercilessly,” he said.

“The spread of HIV and hepatitis is accelerating throughout the province which proves that quacks business is at its peak,” he commented.

He said the quacks charged cheap rates and provide medication in far flung areas. “They are untrained, uneducated and unqualified and should be dealt with iron hands,” he added.

“Kidney failure occurs quite often to people who go to these doctors as they use medicines to increase their hormones,” he said. “When a patient turns to us, we are helpless to make them healthy.”

Kazmi also praised the campaign of Punjab Healthcare Commission, saying that there was a need to be more thorough, in order to deal with hepatitis and other blood borne diseases, otherwise the country’s population would fall victim to these deadly diseases.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2017.

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