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Probe goes slack, quacks come back

A laggard probe team whining over work burden and manpower crunch has given the perpetrators of a parallel health system in Jamshedpur adequate leeway to return to business.

A week after assistant chief medical officer (ACMO) Swarn Singh and district filaria officer S.K. Jha raided six dubious clinics in the city suburbs, quacks were seen back in action at Bhuiyandih, Birsanagar, Parsudih, Bhalubasa, Sitaramdera, Tuiladungri, Shastrinagar, Jugsalai and Mango.

D.S. Gour, who was very much present at his clinic in Bhuiyandih on Monday and whose letterhead says he is an MBBS and AM, conceded that he was only prescribing medicines for minor ailments, besides dressing up wounds.

Buddhadev Kumar, who practises at Babudih in Sidhgora without valid papers, was more impertinent. “We are not committing any crime,” he snapped when asked whether he had a medical licence. “We attend to patients who turn up at our clinic. If the ailment is serious, we refer them to MGM Medical College and Hospital. So, why should I stop my practice?” he said.

Sudhir Kumar, who admitted that he earlier used to be a compounder at a clinic in Kadma, said he had gained enough experience to start his own practice. “I had stopped treating people after the district health department ordered a probe against unqualified doctors. However, I have started it once again,” he added.

Asked why the inquiry had been shoved into the freezer again, ACMO Singh said team member Jha had to take leave for a family emergency, while he was overburdened.

“We had visited six chambers last Tuesday. Two ayurvedic practitioners had framed certificates, while four others who claimed to be rural medical practitioners (RMPs) did not have any. We had asked them to submit their credentials. Further progress in the probe has been hindered because Jha is on leave and I am burdened with other health activities such as creating awareness under the information, education and communication (IEC) programme,” Singh said.

He also claimed that the initial delay in the probe, ordered on February 11, was due to his involvement in more pressing matters such as food quality raids at restaurants and food joints and pulse polio and vasectomy camps.

On February 10, The Telegraph had exposed con men impersonating MBBS doctors. A day after the report was published, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had lodged a complaint with the civil surgeon’s office and health secretary K. Vidyasagar, seeking action. The two-member probe team was formed and it was asked to submit a report within a week.

Civil surgeon Sharan on Tuesday took serious note of the slo-mo probe. She said she would soon serve a showcause on Singh, who is heading investigations. “It is in bad taste to ignore such an important issue for which I have ordered a probe. I am preparing an explanation notice, which will be served on the ACMO soon,” she added.

The local chapter of IMA too took strong exception of the dilly-dallying. President Mritunjay Singh said quacks, who had been forced to suspend practice after the probe was ordered, were once again attending their clinics.

“We have information that they are running clinics with impunity. At some places, they have resumed practice after removing signboards, while at others, especially on the outskirts of the city, they are doing business more brazenly,” the senior IMA official said.

He added that IMA members would soon hold a meeting to draw up measures to check impersonation of doctors.

How can the district health department penalise quacks?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com

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