Quackery must be tackled in an urgent manner

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Have faith in registered practitioners; the need of the hour is to restore trust in doctors

New Delhi, 12th February 2018: An unlicensed doctor from Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district was arrested earlier this month on charges of infecting at least 46 people with HIV by re-using a syringe. He apparently provided cheap door-to-door medical services to poor villagers. A criminal case was filed against him over the spread of the infection in the said district. This is the most recent case highlighting the paucity of healthcare in the country of 1.25 billion and the spread of quackery.

Recent government screenings in the district uncovered a high concentration of HIV cases in the district thereby triggering suspicion. The limited public healthcare services in India, combined with lack of regulation, have made it easy for unlicensed doctors (read quacks) to thrive, more so in rural areas where people trust anyone who they think can cure them of their suffering.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “The GDP spending on public healthcare in India is a little over 1%, one of the lowers in the world. One of the major outcomes of this is the rising number of unqualified medical practitioners, or more plainly, quacks. Employed as an assistant with a registered medical practitioner, these people supposedly learn the tricks of the trade over 18 months to 5 years, prescribing drugs for practically all outpatient conditions. The outcome is that even in the presence of free medical facilities in the vicinity, people choose to visit these quacks in the first instance. The drugs are cheaper and available round the clock, which seems like an instant and best solution.”

Statistics by the WHO indicate that about 57% practicing modern medicine in India may be quacks. This count only seems to increase with most of them possessing nothing more than a school education. Framed certificates and diplomas adorn their “clinics” and these are easily fabricated by offering money.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “There is an urgent need for a central act against quackery. Quackery is a huge issue today. Unqualified people are prescribing medication they are not even aware of. This leads to complications and further we, doctors, are accused of neglect. It also leads to mortality in our hospitals, reaching numbers which we are not even aware of sometimes due to lack of adequate data”.

Adding further Dr Girish Tyagi, President Elect of Delhi Medical Association, said, “It is important to beware of quacks as they indulge in cuts and commissions, will never refer the patient in time, invariably give steroids in every case, and will over investigate the patient to appear genuine. On the other hand, people should have faith in registered and qualified doctors as they do not indulge in unethical practices, do not take or give commissions, work with the primary aim and dharma of healing and not financial gain, believe in Karma and not Kriya, and will always guide patients with the best of interest.

Chronic exposure to environmental noise increases risk of heart disease

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Chronic exposure to environmental noise from road traffic and aircrafts can increase the risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and arterial hypertension. And the potential mechanisms underlying this increased risk have been explored in a study published online February 5, 2018 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The study proposes that noise induces a stress response, characterized by activation of the sympathetic nervous system and increased levels of hormones, which will initiate sequelae and ultimately lead to vascular damage. Traffic noise may disrupt the body on the cellular level in a way that increases the risk of common heart disease risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes because noise is associated with oxidative stress, vascular dysfunction, autonomic imbalance and metabolic abnormalities.

Autonomic imbalance due to environmental noise is also suggested as a potential factor contributing to the cardiovascular risk factors including progression of atherosclerotic process.

(Source: ACC Press release, February 5, 2018)