LAHORE: It is estimated that approximately 65,000 quack clinics and illegal treatment centres are operating all over the province.
As it is, there is a shortage of proper medical facilities and hospitals in Punjab; an issue that is adding to citizen’s miseries. However, an even bigger emerging issue – for the people and the government alike – are the quack clinics and illegal treatment centres cropping up in districts across the province.
Cesspools of death and disease; these clinics are aiding the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C among the common man. The real kicker, however, is the fact that these quacks are not only targeting far-flung areas located on the outskirts of the districts. They have managed to infiltrate big cities and upscale areas, deceiving people seeking healthcare.
Quack clinics and treatment centres can be found in some of the biggest districts that constitute the province such as Narowal, Sialkot, Toba Tek Singh, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Vehari, Bahawalnagar, Kasur, Khanewal, Sargodha, Okara and Sahiwal.
“Every day, many people as a result of these quack clinics. Most of these victims are pregnant females who die during childbirth,” revealed Dr Salman Kazmi from the Mayo Hospital. He is also a senior official of the Young Doctors’ Association.
“In addition to this, entire villages are susceptible to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis due to incorrect methods of treatment and little to no standards of hygiene practised at such clinics,” he maintained.
PHC’s efforts to curb this menace are appreciable, but without a massive crackdown, it is impossible to eliminate this business, he added.
According to a spokesperson for the Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC), 15,000 quack clinics and treatment centres have been shut down in the province over the past two years. Every year, thousands of lives are lost at the hands of these quacks.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan, after taking notice of these illegal businesses, was briefed by PHC over the issue. According to the report submitted to the apex court, quacks posed the biggest threat in Multan, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur and Lahore.
An estimated 8,000 quack clinics have been operating in Dera Ghazi Khan, 10,000 in Rawalpindi, 9,000 in Bahawalpur, 22,500 in Faisalabad, 13,000 in Multan and 14,000 in Lahore.
The SC ordered PHC to launch a crackdown against these charlatans posing as medical professionals. However, in the two months that have passed since these directives were issued, PHC is still struggling to eliminate this menace. This is mainly due to the political pressure and influence behind some of these quack clinics.
Just last week, a vehicle belonging to the commission was targeted, while some assailants also opened fire on a PHC team.
“We are continuing our campaign against these quack clinics, raiding such premises located in different villages. However, the commission is still struggling to tackle this menace due to the influential politicians who support such businesses,” stated a senior official from PHC while requesting anonymity.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2018.