The role of a doctor is a noble one – a mission to heal the sick. Like in any other profession, doctors desire to lead a decent and comfortable life through their practice. But however just and proper this desire may be, this honorable profession should never be reduced to mere money-making practice.
Becoming a doctor is no ordinary task. The only way one can achieve this is through thorough knowledge, years of diligent pursuit of every principle of medical science and a passion to be a great physician. After learning all that is possible from books, experiments, surgeries, and lectures the application of that knowledge is still a mysterious one. The sense of responsibility outweighs any other profession when they begin to treat the sick, as any patient has just one expectation – a cure, and a mere error of judgment can punish the patient with death. A good doctor is confident, cheerful and exudes confidence. This is the doctor we know and respect.
Now let’s understand quackery.
Quackery has become a serious national evil. A quack by definition is a pretender – someone who pretends to have all the medical knowledge and offers to cure all maladies by the use of pills, potions, and syrups of which they know nothing whatsoever. These criminals poison their patients or nearly kill them with their pills and potions until they are rendered incurable and left to suffer, thus depriving them of their health as well as wealth.
Some of these drugs are poisonous and can send the patients to their untimely graves and the others are just placebos that rob the patients of their money. When people recover after taking quack medicines, they attribute their recovery to those medicines when it is actually nature or some other circumstances that must have cured them.
Young men with absolutely no knowledge or half-knowledge qualify themselves and seek a practice violating the rules of medical ethics and recklessly offer cures and secret remedies putting innocent lives at risk. Quacks are everywhere now and actively working against the health of the public on a destructive scale. In India, as per a report published in the Hindu, there are about a million quacks practicing and endangering lives. Anyone practicing modern medicine without a valid degree is a quack.
A WHO report in 2016 found that one-third of those who claimed to be doctors in India were educated only up to the secondary school level and 57% did not have any medical qualifications. Some of them cannot even read or write.
The question is how are these quacks and fake doctors allowed to practice? Does the law allow them? Does it hold them individually responsible for malpractice?
One of the causes of quackery is the way qualifications and degrees are awarded. It is natural for parents to desire a good professional life for their children. For considerations of wealth and fame, they influence their children’s’ decisions and force them to pursue medicine, a field they find difficult to adapt. The education system in some countries allows one to purchase a ticket to medicine and get them the worth of their money – a degree; a qualification to practice medicine – the title of doctor. The young doctor realizes his inability to deal with patients when it is already too late. Now the pressure to recover the costs mounts on him. With this pressure, he turns quack, invents fake medicines, and offers cures for incurable diseases violating the Hippocratic Oath which includes abstaining from doing harm. He then grows rich and leads a luxurious life tempting others to follow.
Only a change in the way medical seats and degrees are offered can hope to bring in some change. The medical councils and boards should make sure examinations are conducted impartially and licenses are granted to only those applicants whose attainments merit it, as degrees and certificates don’t save lives, doctors do.
There should be a ranking of doctors at least once in a few years by the Medical Council as per their learning curves. There should be a national repository of qualified doctors linked with biometric data along with their ranking, performance statistics, awards, and successes. In most countries, it is mandatory to display their medical registrations in their hospitals and clinics as per the medical code of ethics and have the medical license number printed on the prescription. It is worrying that very few actually adhere to these rules. Every hospital and clinic should display the names of doctors along with their medical license numbers on their website.
If there is a proper digital interface, people can verify the doctors themselves and prevent themselves from falling prey to these quacks.
Complaints on quacks and fake doctors should be taken seriously and exemplary punishment should be awarded to those found guilty. An online database of quacks and fake doctors should be put in the public domain to deter them from practicing again.
Some basic general knowledge of medicine and principles of personal safety should be imparted in schools. Children should be made aware of quackery and its dreadful consequences. If this is implemented, magic pills and quackery will die of neglect one day.
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