Pakistan Government is keen to get rid of this menace, official says
A common practice in Pakistan is to go to the quacks for medication rather than a qualified physician. Subsequently the results of such treatments are devastating, because these so-called experts sitting on the pavements create havoc for patients.
According to the facts and figures provided by the government there are over 14,000 quacks practising illegally to treat various diseases throughout the country. But the actual number of these quacks exceeded an alarming 35,000, which is even more than the total registered number of qualified doctors in Pakistan.
The treatments on offer range from cures for diseases of the ear, nose, teeth, skin and genital areas.
Some claim they are experts in treating major and minor fractures.
This correspondent went to Raja Bazaar, a downtown area of Rawalpindi city in Punjab to find out more about their method of treatment – which as per experts is a major cause of spreading diseases.
They use unhealthy and unsterilised equipment for oral surgeries, which they perform right on the road side, risking the patients’ lives. They have displayed their kiosks with the names of fake, illegal clinics. Some mentioned they got the expertise, which they claimed to have, sitting on the payments for the last two to three decades.
One of the oldest quacks who tried to prove himself the most experienced in the area is Sufi Mohammad.
He displays a sign board eductaing passer-by on the importance of oral hygiene.
At Mohammad’s “clinic” a patient can get a transplant done for Rs200 to Rs750 depending on type of dentures or fillings preferred by the patients.
Among other services, he promises patients teeth free of plaque and cigarette stains.
When questioned whether he had a degree in dentistry, Mohammad said, “I have no proper qualification from any medical college but I am doing an even better job than the dentists and other expensive physicians in city. There are dozens of patients who visit us regularly and we do not have hefty fees and hospital charges”.
On free will
When asked if he is qualified with a degree in dentistry, he said, “I have no proper qualification from any medical college but I am doing an even better job than the dentists and other expensive physicians in city.”
The pavement that Mohammad operates from is a frequented spot along City Sadder Road.
M. Imran, one of Mohammad’s regular patients, is visiting to get some relief for a recurring toothache.
After a two-minute examination, Mohammad turns his out teeth with a sharp device after he has administered an injection.
“I have lost almost all my teeth and mostly when I have pain in the teeth, I come here and get it out from this dentist,” Imran said.
He says that Mohammad’s treatment is effective and inexpensive, for in just Rs100 or Rs150 he gets cured.
Have there been any side effects?
“I don’t think that there is any side effect of treatment, I have saved my time and money, as for as the teeth are concerned, I have almost lost it all, so now no need to be cautioned.”
While talking about the permission to sit on the road and occupy a footpath, which is another violation of municipal laws, Sufi said: “I am free to do and sit anywhere because I am a citizen of Pakistan.”
Dr Mohammad Ali Khan, who practises medicine in Rawalpindi, believes that such “doctors” are a serious risk to public health.
He said, “I have seen many patients developing worse symptoms of a disease after visiting these quacks. They give steroids to the patients who feel better in the start and then their condition gets worse.”
Dr Khan was particularly concerned about the sale and use of lizard oil, another source of income for street doctors in Raja Bazaar.
Those selling the oil extract it squeezing it out of the reptile’s vertebrate.
Sinyasi Baba, reknown for this practice, shared a few benefits.
“This oil is highly affective for body pain and is for oral use. There are hundreds of patients who come from far flung areas to buy the lizard oil.”
One of the customers who paid Rs500 for a bottle of lizard oil said: “I am purchasing it the first time and I came to know that it is good for the chronic pains so I will try it, it might give me relief.”
Executive District Office Health, Rawalpindi, Zaffar Iqbal Gondal urges a strong government policy to curb the quackery.
“The government is keen in eradicating the menace of quackery. However, public awareness is the best tool to achieve this.”
The municipal workers say these quacks are too influential to be moved from the roads.
Tehsil Municipal Officer Sardar Tashfeen says, “They can even make the officers transfer but no one can move them. That is the only reason why we do not take any actions now.”
Quackery in Pakistan has become a business that plays with the lives of innocent people. Quacks are the people who pretend to be medical experts as they sit on pavements and cheap outlets selling health at a cheaper price. The approximate number of quacks in Pakistan is almost 600,000 who practise in different cities of Pakistan. There is a huge number of quacks working in major cities of Punjab including Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi. The types and forms of quacks differ from place to place. Those in Karachi mostly target the educated class with fake degrees and charming clinics. Those working in Lahore and Rawalpindi target the lower middle class and their tactics are mostly cheaper rates. The reason why people reach out to the quacks is that the medical facilities in Pakistan are scarce and the treatments offered in government hospitals lack standards. The individual attention people get from these quacks at cheaper rates is a good attraction for the people. The health act 2010 orders action against quackery, but it is rarely used and often missed out by the authorities.