Follow health advice only from a registered medical practitioner: HCFI

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Remedies and cures circulated via social media channels may be detrimental to health

New Delhi, 25th May 2019: Indian oncologists are increasingly battling unscientific miracle treatments for cancer shared widely on social media. Recently, Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), the country’s premier cancer institute, issued a rebuttal on a strange cancer remedy attributed to them in a widely circulated WhatsApp message. The message stated that hot coconut water can destroy cancer cells of all types.

Often, many irrelevant and widely circulated unscientific remedies defer treatment for diseases in patients. There is a need to raise awareness on the fact that people should not be influenced by such false claims and miracle remedies posted or spread on social media.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “It is the ability to anticipate, recognize and the quickness shown in managing any complication that marks a distinguishing characteristic of a ‘good’ doctor and sets him/her apart from others. To acquire these clinical and procedural skills, a doctor undergoes years of rigorous study and training. Only then do they acquire adequate knowledge, discernment and develop skills to take the right decision for the patient and adapt to changing practices. However, today, people on social media, ‘cure-mongers’, ‘quacks’ and ‘diet gurus’ issue medical diktats and people are inclined to be attracted to alternative, unscientific treatment methods. These leave some people confused and others undertake these measures believing in them. From hoax and fake news on chronic diseases such as diabetes to the miracle remedies that offer cure for these, there is a plethora of news flooding social media, and can be dangerous to health.”

The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India which controls advertising of drugs in India. It prohibits advertisements of drugs and remedies that claim to have magical properties and makes doing so a cognizable offence.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, 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.”

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.

There should also be a law against fake news as it can generate social unrest in the community and polarize society into groups. Agitations may be an unwanted consequence of fake news.

1.     Any unscientific claim is illegal

2.     Scientific claims mean rectified by a scientific journal or a conference

3.     Claims should be certified by experts or stake holders

4.     Claims should refer to a name or an institution

5.     One should differentiate an opinion from a judgment. Individual opinions have least scientific validity