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‘Training non-MBBS docs best option’

Experts say slums have a dearth of MBBS doctors, and in their absence, those trained in alternative medicine illegally prescribe allopathic drugs.

mumbai Updated: Jul 15, 2012 01:02 IST

Last week, Marziya Irshad Shaikh, 2, was suffering from cold and cough and was taken to a unani doctor in her slum, Nargis Dutt Nagar in Bandra (West).

She took the allopathic medicines prescribed by the alternative medicine doctor for a few days, but her condition worsened. She was finally taken to Bhabha Hospital, where after three days of treatment, she returned home on Saturday.

“We did not realise that her chest congestion had become serious. At Bhabha, they told us if we do not take care in the future she might develop asthma and severe allergies,” said Marziya mother, Farah Shaikh.

The slum has about 9,000 people living in 1,800 hutments. It has four doctors, but none has an MBBS (Bachelor in Medicine, Bachelor in Surgery) degree. Most of Mumbai’s slums have a dearth of MBBS doctors, who are trained to prescribe allopathic medicines. In their absence, doctors trained in alternative medicines such as homeopathy, ayurveda and unani, illegally prescribe allopathic medicines, including antibiotics.

“We need good doctors, but what is the option? Patients with small problems such as cough and fever cannot spend the entire day at public hospitals, which are very crowded,” said Iqbal Dadamiya Shaikh, member of Bhabha Hospital’s Vigilance Committee and a local social activist.

Dr Nikhil Datar, who started patient safety alliance, a network for patients’ rights said, “We need some method to bridge the gap. If the government can train the alternative medicine doctors, who are anyways practicing in these areas, it will be wonderful.”

First Published: Jul 15, 2012 01:01 IST