The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bitter-pill dose for quacks

What does MBBS (BIMS) England or MBBS (CSME) Edinburgh stand for' Chances are, absolutely nothing.

These are supposed to be special degrees proclaiming the best doctors in the business. But instead, they often adorn desks of quacks taking Calcuttans for a ride and throwing law enforcers into a tizzy.

The state government has finally woken up to the disturbing presence of the ‘bad’ doctor. It has recently prepared a list of doctors accused of cheating patients with their false degrees and inadequate knowledge of medicine.

Some of them are said to have prescribed a combination of steroids, paracetamol and painkillers to provide temporary relief, for anything between Rs 50 and Rs 175 as consultation fees. If the patient does come back with the same complaint, he is given a another combination of pills for another fortnight, with some alternative therapy thrown in as well.

All this has been brought to the notice of the health department by the Medical Council of India and the Indian Medical Association, who have submitted a list of such fake doctors to the government.

Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee told Metro that the government was determined to identify the quacks and put them away. “We have already taken action against a lot of these fake doctors. Two have been arrested from SSKM Hospital and three others from Sagar Dutta Hospital and some private hospitals. This is the beginning of a long battle to clean up the medical fraternity,” Chatterjee said.

A joint probe by the government and the police has also revealed that a large number of touts operating in SSKM Hospital and the Medical College and Hospital also lure patients to these fake doctors. “We have asked the police to identify them and take action,” Chatterjee added.

For starters, the government is learnt to have drawn up a list of 15-odd doctors in the city and 40 others in the district. Deputy commissioner of police (central division) Zulfiquar Hasan, one of the senior police officers on the lookout for the fake doctors, said he was aware of their presence. “We have picked up a few in the past and our men are on alert to track down and nab these frauds,” Hasan added.

When this reporter paid a visit to the B.B. Ganguly Street chamber of one of the 15 identified fake doctors claiming to be an MBBS and a fellow from England, he was not available for consultation.

The doctor’s assistant, identifying himself as Suresh, claimed to know all about medicine and healthcare, too.

After learning that the reporter had a positive Elisa test result for intestinal tuberculosis and a positive HBASG result (blood jaundice), Suresh said: “Don’t worry, our bilet pherot (foreign-returned) doctor will give you one or two medicines and you will be absolutely fit again. Till then, try some analgesics. You can come back late tonight.”

Among the list of fake doctors available with the health department, several operate from obscure or dilapidated buildings throughout the city — Taltala, Sealdah, Park Street, B.B. Ganguly Street, Grant Lane, Kudghat and Chitpore, among others.

Some doctors are available for consultation in small pharmacies and others have makeshift chambers. These pharmacies depend on the doctor’s prescription to empty their medicine stocks and boost sales.

“There are hundreds of such doctors operating in Calcutta and its fringes. We have submitted a separate list to arrest these quacks. I have myself seen cancer patients being taken for a ride by these fake doctors,” said cancer specialist and IMA state chapter president Subir Ganguly.

nUnicef report: The State of the World’s Children 2003, a Unicef publication, was launched in the city on Wednesday by Biswanath Choudhury, minister for women and child development, social welfare and jails. The theme of this year’s report was child participation and children’s role in progress and empowerment.

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