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Investigative

Investigative by: Marina Tato

Quack Doc 



Human life on earth is full of strength and weaknesses, and good health and illness like day and night occur naturally in everyone’s life cycle. There are many noble human beings who work all their lives to ease the sufferings of others –among them are doctors, who are perhaps the most respected next to God for their service to society by saving countless lives.



But as has been seen, a majority of people have forgotten how to truly accomplish their duties and the fraudulent practise of medicine merely to make money leads to quackery in some places. Cases of quack doctors are surfacing and are a real threat to people's life.





A few months earlier, we came to take notice of a post on a social network site where one H Hareendran P M was being admired for his services and was even titled ‘the best doctor’ in Arunachal Pradesh by some users and the comments below showed that several people appreciated his services and incredible consultation fee of merely Rs 20.



However, a few who had knowledge of his background were quick to point out that Hareendran was in fact, a pharmacist and not a doctor, and that the Arunachal Pradesh Medical Council (APMC) had notified him not to use the ‘Doctor’ tag. Some also questioned the reason of such a small consulting fee and called it an act to attract more patients to sell medicines.



We found out that Hareendran is currently a pharmacist working in the health unit of NERIST and owns a private clinic in Nirjuli.



The distinction between a pharmacist and a doctor’s role is still ignored in several places and many do not bother to check with a doctor and would rather ask a pharmacist for medicines for their minor ailments.



Query



According to the information provided by the Office of Secretary cum Registrar (Allopathy) Arunachal Pradesh, the APMC had received anonymous complaints about the illegal medical practises taking place in the state. Based on the complaints, the APMC sent a notice on 7 September, 2012 and accordingly, many illegal allopathy practitioners were warned. Some registered themselves while some stopped their practice entirely.



All those under the scanner were informed that as per Section 8(d) of the Arunachal Pradesh Medical Council Act, 2004 and Rules 24(2) of Arunachal Pradesh Medical Council Rules, 2006, it is mandatory for all medical practitioner to register their names with APMC to practice in the state and were given 15 days time to register if they possessed a recognised medical qualification (minimum MBBS).



The APMC had warned Hareendran on more than two occasions and had sent a team to check on him at his private clinic at Nirjuli, but fail to find any proof against him.



APMC had also sent a notice to Hareendran on 7 September, 2012 and 31 May, 2013 against Mandatory Registration under APMC to practice allopathy and to stop practising without a registration but the alleged person has not reverted to the APMC’s notice till date.



Encounter with Quack Doc



Based on information provided by the APMC we made a visit to Hareendran P M at his private clinic where he is in-charge of the OPD section, but does not have a name plate placed around. There are a bunch of allopathic medicines on the table, a plain pad and stethoscope, and seemingly looks like any other doctor’s chamber. 



When we questioned his reasons for not responding back to the APMC notice, Hareendran denied the entire allegation put on him and said that he had not received any such notice. “Maybe the APMC sent the notice to our director’s office at NERIST and the office had replied back but I personally have not received any notice from them. I do not do open practice and neither do I charge any fee from patients”, said Hareendran and claimed that he practises homeopathy and does not prescribe any medicines. “I just come here as I am the owner of this pharmacy to check and help the staffs”, he added.

Meanwhile, the office of Director and Health Unit in-charge NERIST admitted that it had received the notice and they had responded back to APMC saying that Hareendran is a pharmacist of the institution.



On a closer look of his office, Hareendran has two certificates in his chamber related to the practice of Alternative Medicine issued by North East Council of Alternative Medicine (NECAM) an NGO based in Silchar, Cachar, Assam.



If you are wondering whether NGOs can give such certifications to doctors and whether those certificates are acceptable in the Medical Council of India (MCI) or in state medical councils, the government has clarified that it has not recognized the integrated system of medicine and currently there is no proposal to develop integrated system of medicine by the Government of India. Practitioners of so-called integrated medicine, alternative system of medicine, electro-homeopathy and indo-allopathy do not exist in any Act and are not recognized by law and hence stands invalid.



And while Hareendran had mentioned that he practiced homeopathy instead of allopathic medicine, the office of the Homeopathy Medical Council of Arunachal Pradesh (APHMC) office clarified that as per APHMC registration list there are 265 registered doctors, but no person with the name Hareendran is registered with them. 'Those arriving from different states, wanting to pursue clinical practice in Arunachal have to provide No Objection Certificate which is given by the state medical council. Then, they verify his or her registration number and then are registered in the State Medical council'.



Required Registration



In modern medicine, any person who is qualified enough to practise has to register with the office of the APMC. The APMC Act 2004 was passed by the State Assembly and published in the Arunachal Pradesh Gazette Notification no. 56, Vol-Xlll on 12 May, 2004 and works as per the MCI, 1956.



The APHMC and APMC both follow the rules and act of MCI, 1958 and thereby, every person who holds any of the medical qualifications required or is registered in MCI has to be registered in the present pursuing state medical council with a minimum degree of MBBS. Every branch of Allopath, Homeo and Ayurved has its own council to register in the MCI or state medical councils.



Awareness



From time to time the MCI issues notices regarding awareness to fill in the public need. The last awareness notice was out on January 11, 2016 which was circulated to all defined departments and local newspapers by the state medical councils on the details of patient information to be used in a doctor’s prescription pad. Details containing the doctor’s name, degree, registration number, signature and patients details like name, age and provisional diagnosis with strength and dosage of medicine are all requisite.



Even as some know Hareendran to be a pharmacist and not a doctor, many locals, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds come to him for treatment.

After the various steps taken and repeated notice given to Hareendran by the APMC to stop practicing allopathic medicine and to stop using the title of 'DR' (doctor) in front of his name, his practise is still running secretly and he has been using plain paper as prescription pads.



Locals around the area said that Hareendran has made a good connection with them as he has been with them for more than 28 years and most people of Nirjuli know him, and hence, nobody ever questions him and even consider him a hero forPharmacists are not privy to all the information that doctors are to, and that is one reason why pharmacist should not be prescribing drugs. It is not unethical for a pharmacist to make an assumption about someone else's health and stand between a patient and their medication, but could also lead to serious repercussions. The prime duty of a pharmacist is the safe transfer and drug administration for patient care as prescribed by the doctor.



However, when medical expenses are sky-rocketing and meeting a doctor to find out what ails us burns a hole through our pockets, people in general will be compelled to resort to cheaper means that serve their purpose. Now that does not mean we encourage pharmacists playing the role of doctors, but we certainly hope the government comes up with more policies that benefit those who need it the most.

Look East Spark

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