Chennai: Concerned at the increasing number of quacks surfacing every other day, the state health department has issued a directive to all joint directors in the district under the directorate of medical services: Book cases against at least 10 quacks every month.
The directive, sent to officials last week, said they should develop an intelligence network, investigate cases at the field level and provide a detailed report in a prescribed format to the state enforcement cell for initiation of appropriate action. "We have been cracking down on quacks across the state but we realise the present team in the state headquarters will be inadequate. Ground reports show there are thousands spread across both rural and urban areas, including cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Trichy. Even if we book them, they come out on bail and start practice. We will have to systematicly stop this menace," said a senior health official refusing to be named.
Officials have been told to also book quacks practising Indian medicine or homoeopathy without qualification. "In the last three months, we found quacks prescribing drugs, administering injections, doing scans and even terminating pregnancies. Most of them have been practising for several years and are popular. Many people prefer them because they are affordable. We booked cases against at least 40 doctors but we still have much more to go," said director of medical services superintendent M Kamalakannan.
Officials had closed down at least two institutes training quacks in Tiruvallur district. In September, a TOI investigation found at least six quacks having a field day in Chennai as much as in the hinterland. Many have had a roaring practice for nearly two decades and had advertised on online directories such as Practo, Just Dial and Sulekha.
Doctors' bodies such as Indian Medical Association and the Tamil Nadu State Medical officials have volunteered to create awareness among people. "We will ask doctors display their registration certificates prominently. We will also be conducting awareness programmes to tell people on how they should check if their doctor is qualified," said Salem-based Dr K Prakasam who has been campaigning for action against quacks since 2009.
On July 26, the state health department formed a state or district level expert committee for prevention of quackery and medical malpractice to guide the enforcement cell. The committee, headed by director of medical services Dr K Senguttuvan, will once every three months formulate and approve guidelines and action packages against quackery malpractice. A district expert committee, meanwhile, will meet every month to investigate cases in its jurisdiction.