Authorities in Mumbai will be cracking down on quack doctors operating in the city, following the arrest of five unqualified practitioners earlier this month.
“Bogus doctors are a menace to society and a threat to human life,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Pranay Ashok said following the arrests. “In this major crackdown, the police has busted a big bogus doctors’ racket in central Mumbai.” Maharashtra Medical Council president Dr Shivkumar Utture condemned the practice of quackery, stating “there is no strict law for such bogus practitioners. The state should form a mechanism to eliminate quackery. This is the biggest blot on the healthcare system.”
Of those accused, one was illiterate and the others had only completed basic secondary education. According to Yahoo News, “these alleged doctors, posted their advertisements in public places such as toilets, railway stations assuring to cure all sorts of sexual diseases and problems. These doctors were found practising with fake degrees, which actually belong to another doctor.”
The accused have been charged under Sections 419 (cheating by personation) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Indian Penal Code as well as for violations of the Maharashtra Medical Practitioners Act. They were subsequently remanded into police custody.
In an effort to take action on the issue, the health department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the police force will work together to crack down on quack doctors in the city, who are believed to mainly work in slum areas. Deputy Commissioner of Police for Crime Branch Shahaji Umap has informed that authorities are monitoring practitioners working in these areas.
Quackery is endemic throughout India, with unqualified, unlicensed practitioners manning the country’s healthcare workforce in huge numbers. 25 percent of healthcare workers in India lack the requisite qualifications to practise medicine. An estimated 1.5 to 2.5 million quack doctors work in India, outnumbering professional doctors in some states.
The risks to health from this are clear. Without proper medical training, quack doctors may misprescribe medicines, misdiagnose illnesses and administer improper treatments. Unqualified practitioners drive subpar healthcare which kills 1.6 million people in India every year according to research published in The Lancet. Cracking down on quack doctors and recruiting more professional doctors to plug the gap which allows for quacks to proliferate are necessary if this situation is to be addressed.