Want action taken against those masquerading as doctors; say this poses serious threat to patients

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), Tamil Nadu and the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association (TNGDA) have urged the State government to take action against quacks posing as licensed medical practitioners and demanded an anti-quackery law at the earliest.

The associations have also asked the government to immediately intervene and stop physiotherapists from prefixing ‘Dr.’ to their names.

“There are nearly 30,000 quacks in Tamil Nadu. The number of quacks is high in rural areas and most of them have studied only up to class V or VI. There are persons who have studied other systems of medicine but practice allopathy. Such practices should be curbed as the lives of people are at risk,” J.A. Jayalal, honorary secretary of IMA, Tamil Nadu State branch, told reporters on Monday.

Quacks are common in fields related to sexual problems and infertility, and sometimes also perform abortions which could be very dangerous, he added.

“An anti-quackery law has been a long-pending need in the State in order to curb all kinds of quackery and protect people’s lives,” P. Balakrishnan, State secretary of TNGDA said.

At present, if a quack does get arrested, he/she gets away with a fine of Rs. 500 or Rs. 1,000 in the absence of a separate law.

IMA has been pressing for legislation as well as district-level squads to nab quacks, Dr. Jayalal added.

Both the IMA and the TNGDA also raised the issue relating to physiotherapists prefixing ‘Dr.’ to their names.

“As per government orders and a Madras High Court ruling, physiotherapists cannot prefix ‘Dr.’ to their names and prescribe medicines to patients. The IMA is planning to file a contempt petition in the court with regard to this,” he said.

The organisations also urged the government to intervene and take strict action to curb this practice.

“Physiotherapists come under the allied health sciences category. If the government does not act at the earliest, we will stage a protest along with the IMA as well as medical college students in May,” Dr. Balakrishnan said.

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