Quack doctors continue to have a free run treating unsuspecting patients in the Capital thanks largely to police inaction, Delhi Medical Council data show.
Of the nearly 400 complaints filed by the council with police against unqualified people illegally prescribing drugs, only a fourth have been converted into first information reports (FIRs) needed to arrest the culprits. As a result, unqualified and unregistered medical practitioners continue to prescribe medicines that can harm patients and fuel antibiotic resistance through repeated use.
“Over the past three years or so, Delhi Police have registered barely 100 FIRs on 397 complaints filed till March this year against people prescribing drugs they are not qualified or licensed to do. We have tried everything. Council members even met some senior officials in Delhi Police, who assured us of legal action against these quacks posing as doctors, but nothing has been done,” council registrar Dr Girish Tyagi said.
A World Health Organization report titled The Health Workforce in India, based on 2001 Census data and published in June, said nearly a third of those calling themselves allopathic doctors were educated only up to Class 12.
Also, 57% of the practitioners did not have any medical qualification. Under the Indian Medical Council Act, only doctors of modern medicine registered with a state medical council are licensed to prescribe allopathic medicines.
The Capital has 10,932 doctors of modern medicine registered with the Delhi Medical Council, according to data with India’s Central Bureau of Health Intelligence for 2015. There are 3,617 registered practitioners of ayurveda, 2,074 of unani medicine and 4,354 of homeopathy.
“People are certified as quacks by the council after a thorough investigation. We have documents and foolproof evidence on these people against whom complaints have been made for posing as doctors and prescribing modern medicine across Delhi,” Dr Tyagi said.
The council’s anti-quackery cell tracks people who are not authorised to prescribe allopathic medicines. After the council receives a complaint, it alerts the chief district medical officer of that particular zone, who conducts an inquiry.
The council then issues an order asking the person to shut the illegal clinic and stop practising. The order is shared with police to register an FIR against the person. The entire process takes two to three months.
“Police sometimes do not even accompany our officials during raids,”Dr Tyagi said.
Delhi Police in their response said they would act on the complaints soonest.
“Since the matter has been brought to my notice now, I will ask all district DCPs to take necessary actions and submit their reports as early as possible. Whatever action needs to be taken will be taken as per law,” said special commissioner of police (crime) Taj Hassan, also chief spokesperson, Delhi Police.