In Gorakhpur, quacks fish in troubled waters
As many as 200 unregistered medical practitioners, commonly known as quacks or ‘jhola chhap’ doctors, are running clinics in localities and villages near the BRD Medical College.Updated: Aug 18, 2017 15:01 IST
For the residents of Ramnagar village, located 10 km north of Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College, Kamlesh Kumar (40) is the saviour of the lives of their children.
An intermediate in biology from a government college in Bhathat, Kumar runs his “clinic” on the Gorakhpur-Maharajganj highway.
Kamlesh is not alone. As many as 200 unregistered medical practitioners, commonly known as quacks or ‘jhola chhap’ doctors, are running clinics in localities and villages near the BRD Medical College.
HT found such clinics on the highways, by-lanes of villages and even in the fields.
The quacks claimed to have pursued BEMS, BHMS and BAMS courses from private medical colleges but refused to show their certificates.
It was found that they had stored medicines and also had makeshift operation theatres in their clinics.
“About 10-15 children daily visit my clinic for treatment. By seeing the symptoms, I can say if a child is infected with Japanese encephalitis, acute encephalitis syndrome (JE/AES) or common fever,” said Kamlesh Kumar.
“Children infected with JE/AES are under shock and their body quivers at regular intervals. After diagnosis and check-up, I administer them medicine available in my clinic,” he said.
When told that the state government has ordered action against unqualified and unregistered medical practitioners, he said: “I have worked as a compounder at the clinic of a qualified medical practitioner in Gorakhpur for a decade. After learning the basics of medicine, I opened a clinic in my village in 2007.”
“If the patients are in a critical condition, I get them admitted to private hospitals or tell the parents to take them to the medical college,” Kumar said.
Another quack Sonu Nishad, who runs a clinic in Gulriha village near the BRD Medical College, said the influx of patients increased during monsoon. “Though the medical college is merely 2 km from my clinic but to avoid long queues and harassment, patients prefer to come here. I give them medicine and charge minimum fee,” Nishad said.
“People have no option but to visit our clinic for treatment. There is crisis of doctors in rural areas,” said Raja Ram, who runs a clinic in Jainpur village.
He said the primary health centre (PHC) in his village had only one doctor and the community health centre (CHC) in Bhathat area also faced a shortage of doctors.
“Instead of ordering action, the state government should provide us training and make us a part of the medical services,” he said.
A daily wager Shailendra, whose one-month old son died at the BRD Medical College on Tuesday, said: “When my son fell ill, I took him to a local doctor (quack). After a fortnight, I admitted my son to the medical college when there was no improvement in his condition. But it was too late.”
“Quacks have a strong network around medical college. They have agents spread in villages who take patients to their clinics,” said Madhusudan Singh, who runs a chemist shop near the medical college.
“They fleece the patients and only when their condition deteriorates, they refer them to the medical college,” he said.
Former principal of BRD Medical College Dr KP Kushwaha said quacks were mainly responsible for the increase in the death rate of patients.
“Majority of rural patients get into the trap of quacks. They rush to the medical college only when their condition starts deteriorating. It is difficult for doctors to revive such patients. The state government should organise awareness campaigns in rural areas,” he said.
“The Allahabad high court, in its order in 2006, had directed the state government to check quackery. It seems there are few takers of the court order in UP otherwise how one can explain the increase in the number of unregistered medical practitioners from 32,245 in 2006 to 85,656 in 2017? The health department has identified 2,200 clinics being run by quacks,” social activist Sanjay Singh said.
Chief medical officer, Gorakhpur, Dr Rajendra Kumar said the district health department had launched a drive against quacks. “Cases will be registered against unqualified doctors who are caught running clinic,” he said.