Saturday, March 24, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Quackery flourishes in Ludhiana
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, March 23
Ludhiana has emerged as a major centre for medical treatment with a large number of super-speciality centers setting up shop. But at the same time, this industrial city has emerged as a city with the largest number of quacks establishing a flourishing practice at the expense of unsuspecting patients. More often than not, simple ailments of such patients are not only misdiagnosed, but also complicated with prescriptions of steroids and other harmful substances.

While most of quacks continue to prosper, the administration has conveniently chosen to look away, thereby violating a directive of the Punjab and Haryana High Court instructing the state government in general and Civil Surgeon in particular, to conduct periodical raids and surveys on shops and clinics of unqualified medical practitioners.

Earlier this month, a division bench comprising Mr Justice R.L. Anand and Mr Justice K.C. Gupta had directed Civil Surgeons in the states of Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh to check the growing menace of quackery within a reasonable period of time. The ruling came in response to a petition filed by the vice- president of Indian Medical Education, Mr I.S. Kotsukhia.

Interestingly, these quacks claim to cure ailments like AIDS. Concentrated in areas around the bus stand, these “medical practitioners” openly advertise in the electronic and print media. Unsuspecting childless couples, men suffering from general debility, women wanting breast enlargement, youngsters wanting to increase their height or the middle-aged wanting to control hair loss are their main clients.

“These quacks look for the illiterate segments of society, who they can easily mislead and fleece,” says a leading city physician, Dr Pushpinder Singh. Promises like “return of vigour in seven days” appear very attractive to unsuspecting clients who are put on steroids and hormones, he says.

The other areas in which there is a large concentration of such “medical practitioners” include Sherpur, Janakpuri, Basti Jodhewal, Shivpuri, Shimlapuri, Barewal Road, Tajpur Road and Kundanpuri.

While one such ‘doctor’ claims to treat his patients with German and American medicines, many quacks claim that they make their own medicines based on well-kept and guarded secrets of several generations. Interestingly, there are others who use utensils like spoons and bowls to “suck out the ailment” from the bodies of the patients.

A quack, commonly known as “Rajasthani doctor”, uses what he calls animal and plant extracts for ailments such as skin allergies.

Concerned over the growing quack menace, the High Court judges had observed, “We hope and expect that no unqualified quack is allowed to practice in the region and to create any hazard to the precious lives of human beings.”

During the proceedings of this case, Ludhiana’s Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajinder Kaur, had in a short affidavit, stated that 40 shops were closed after action was taken in accordance with the High Court orders issued on November 14 last year. She had added that 26 persons were found to be registered vaids, homoeopaths and licensed chemists. An assurance was also given to launch a drive against all such remaining quacks.

While, Dr Rajinder Kaur could not be contacted, inquiries revealed that the Civil Surgeon office was yet to chalk out a strategy to ensure closure of clinics of all “unregistered quacks”.

Assistant Civil Surgeon, Dr Trilok Nath however said that that 26 special dispensaries had been opened in the different parts of the city where the doctor in charge had also been asked to conduct raids and close shops of all medical practitioners not registered in the state.

However, expressing the helplessness of the department, he said, “We agree that unregistered medical practitioners have a flourishing business in the city. Whenever we conduct a raid, these practitioners shut shops, only to resurface at the same spot later or sometimes relocating to another site in the city.”

About the scores of advertisements of quacks, luring people with exaggerated claims in the electronic and print media, the Assistant Civil Surgeon said that he could not comment on the issue.

The Ludhiana branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) is contemplating launching a drive to identify all such elements who are a health risk to the people.

During a recent meeting of the IMA, some members decided to take up the matter if the local administration failed to do so in the near future.


Judo teams announced
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 23
The district judo teams have been announced to participate in the Punjab State Judo Championship to be held from March 27 to 29 at Hoshiarpur.

The members of the teams are as follows:
Junior boys: Bhupinder Singh (40kg), Mandeep Singh (45 kg), Sandeep (71 kg), Kuldeepak (above 71 kg); Junior girls: Ruby (36kg), Puja (44kg), Surinder Kaur (48kg), Santokh Kumari (52kg), Tina (57kg); Senior Boys: Navjot Channa (56kg), Rajdeep (60kg), Roshan singh (66kg), Harpreet Singh (73kg), Sukhwant Singh (81kg), Robin Mika (90kg), Mohinder Singh (100kg), Surinder Singh (100plus), Surinder Singh (open); Senior (Girls): Narinder Kaur (44kg), Namrata (48kg), Deepika (52kg), Anju Bala (57kg), Jyotinder Kaur (63kg), Jagjit Kaur (70kg), Manpreet Kaur (78kg), Renu Deepak (Open).

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