Have quacks become the lifeline for the minions in India? That is what the scenario looks like, particularly in rural India. It is an open secret that most Government hospitals in India function only in name, and that serves as a lacuna that is automatically filled in by con-men who take advantage of hapless patients. This is unfortunately a reality hardly anyone can deny.
What with the top brass in the health ministry or even the highest governing body of doctors in India, the Medical Council of India caught in the grasp of corruption, where is our healthcare system heading? Without doubt, we healthcare professionals in India are losing our credibility. There is a growing disregard for doctors and healthcare professionals in general in India, and sometimes the situation is almost close to being abysmal.
The Stark Reality
The doctors in rural India can be placed in two different brackets – some who have built a practice out of trust and self-sacrifice, while there are those that try to take advantage of the situation and misuse their status. Of course, there are those that claim to be “compounders” and “RMPs”, terms which have long been forgotten in Indian history. I had one incidence where this young chap who runs a pharmacy in the village comes to me and asks me to give him an authorization letter to practice. Well, you can be sure I gave him some corrective medicines. I am sure there will be many others who will be trying similar tactics to obtain false and outright nefarious documents from more honourable persons than me.
I am strictly against abortion and such practices out in the open by unauthorized personnel makes the crime even more ghastly. Another incident involving such a scenario occurred in my own native place.
A young lady, mother of three, lay in pain in the shabby little dwelling far away from civilized life. Hardly did I know that even in this simplistic setup would people be aware of abortion, much less that they have already borne the brunt of having it done by some quacks. She was in agony, running a high temperature and possibly was in a septic shock. With much coercion, she was taken to the nearest civil hospital where she was diagnosed to have a ruptured uterus with sepsis. She was operated on, and she survived to tell the tale.
Is this just another stray incident or is it just one to add to the numbers? To my surprise, it was revealed to me that this was a routine practice among numerous women in the village and most of them got it done by some quacks in a nearby township. The utter failure of the healthcare system to check such prolific growth in the number of people posing as doctors could only mean disaster.
Nexus between Pharmaceutical Companies and Quacks
This is a deadly combination when it comes to medical practice and it is better curbed in the bud. Numerous fledgling pharmaceutical companies patronize quacks because they get cheap source of marketing to hapless patients. Most villages in India are still without a doctor or proper healthcare facilities.
Quacks start giving highly priced medications to patients trying to cut huge margins and gifts from pharmaceutical companies. Ethics is not a criterion for these men – they are not bound by any oaths to safely manage patients. Unauthorized prescriptions are numerous and they make the impending antibiotic disaster a reality even in the remotest of villages. Antibiotics are being dispensed without any prescriptions and in dosages and duration inadequate for the treatment of the disease at hand.
Any Solutions at Hand?
I am afraid “NO”. The current condition of India’s health care is only the making of the socio-political scenario, wherein there is much corruption. It is only a pity that most PHCs and CHCs that were meant to serve the poverty-ridden in the villages of India, are defunct. They only exist in paper and in pay-rolls which some unscrupulous persons use to their benefit. Most of the appointments in these health care facilities are politically based and no proper selection criteria is ascertained. Many of those appointed to these centres hardly, if ever, have made their presence felt and if one tried, he or she is certain to feel the heat. Medicines provided in these facilities are also of poor quality and sparse in supply. This is what paves the way for con-men posing as health care providers.
I am writing here based on my experience in a remote part of the country, but looking at numerous reports in newspapers and other media, I am sure the scenario is not much different in other parts of the country.
There seems to be no ready-made solution to this problem.
Let us see if the new medical body in India can see any things through. I hope it does, because it is the poorest of the poor who bear the brunt of this misery. Quacks should be brought to the book and trained personnel should be placed and ensured that work is being done in these remote areas for the benefit of poor people.
Of course, ethical practice should find its way back into the villages in India. It is then that “Health for All” becomes a reality.