Welcome to another Docscopy session. MedBound Times brings to you an eye-opening story of quacks and anti-quack cells through the conversation between Dr. Anil Bansal, Ex- Chairman of the Anti-quackery cell (2009-2015), MO at NDMC and Parul Soni from MedBound Times.
Dr. Anil Bansal is the Ex- Chairman of the Anti-Quackery Cell of the Delhi Medical Council (DMC). He was the president of the Delhi Medical Association. He runs his clinic as a General Physician in Delhi, India.
Let's read further what Dr. Bansal has to say about his 33 years long career and his battle against the quacks.
Parul: Please tell us about your professional journey and experiences.
Dr. Bansal: After finishing my MBBS (1974-1981) from the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS), I started my job as a medical officer in 1981 at Delhi Medical Council (DMC). After 33 years of service, I retired from the DMC in March 2015. At present I'm MO at NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council).
I have been always active in the medical community, and I was elected as president of the Delhi Medical Association in 2003-04.
In the last two Delhi Medical Council elections, in the year 2004 and 2009, I was elected as the chairman of Anti-Quackery cell.
Parul: We are most inquisitive to know about Anti quackery cell! Please explain what do these Quacks do. What is the role of Anti-quackery cell?
Dr. Bansal: Due to high population in India, the Doctor-patient ratio is low. No rules and regulations were implemented initially. Before independence, there were many fake doctors like compounders, etc. In 1956, the government came out with a rule that only qualified MBBS who are registered with the Medical Council of India would be allowed to practice ethically to provide quality healthcare. Legal action will be taken against those who are not registered but still practicing.
However, the practice was going on unethically, when the rule was passed by the parliament. But the awareness was not there, common people could not make out who were the real doctors. The thing was that the MBBS doctors were the real RMP (Registered Medical Practitioners). But some bureaucrats were supporting these quacks, nobody wanted to take legal action against these quacks irrespective of the complaints against them. This issue was raised repeatedly, fight against quacks kept going on.
In 1973, the government of India's Central council of Indian medicine passed a rule that Ayurvedic and Homeopathic doctors will also get registered and do their respective practices. It was never mentioned anywhere that they can practice allopathic medicine.
In Punjab, many people filed many complaints against an Ayurveda doctor named Mukhtiyar Chand. Punjab and Rajasthan High Courts took out an order that only those who are registered with the Medical Council of India will practice allopathic medicine. He fought against this order, along with other ayurvedic doctors and went to the supreme court in 1987. This court case went on for 11 years, supreme court ordered that those who are not registered cannot practice allopathic medicine, no matter what.
But you know the legal language is tricky and bureaucrats who kept on supporting these quacks were one of the main reasons no action was taken against them.
In 2004 in Kerala, Ayurvedic Doctors took out a notice supporting that Allopathic medical practice can be done by Ayurvedic doctors. Some ayurvedic doctors said that "we will make our own rules and we can practice allopathic medicine". This claim was rejected by the Kerala high court. These doctors fought double benches and lost, then went to the supreme court, and in 2010 supreme court also rejected their case.
As we know when an act is passed from Central Act, you can’t bypass it. We complained to the supreme court that why actions are not being taken even after the act has been passed. Supreme court suggested filing a case again in the high court. Delhi Medical Association versus Ayurvedic doctor case ran for six years, Justice Nilay ordered that the rule which was passed in 1998 is valid and the ayurvedic doctors can’t practice allopathic medicine and will be penalized, if caught. These ayurvedic doctors fought again and went to the supreme court again, somehow manipulating the whole situation in 2016-17. That time the chief justice changed, and a new person came to the post. He said there will be a stay order until then no criminal action will be taken, we shall give the reason why other doctors are not allowed to practice medicine later.
Now the Modi Government has come, and they dissolved the Medical Council of India and made the National Medical Council. Now, the Government wants to join all the other doctors in mainstream medicine via a short course or diploma. But no concrete decision has been taken, but as per law, ayurveda doctors cannot practice allopathic medicine.
Parul: Sir, are these kinds of courses enrolling students or government is taking some other decision?
Dr. Bansal: In the year 2013, Ghulam Nabi Azad ji, when he was the Health Minister, he came up with a one-year course after which any stream of doctors would be able to practice modern medicine. But there was uproar in the medical community, and this could not be passed. But the local government continues to ignore these malpractices. See, there are two types of people in quackery one is total fake (you must have heard about some "specialists" who operate on piles) and the other is ayurvedic/homeopathic doctors who want to practice medicine.
But Ayurvedic doctors want to practice allopathy to boost their practice because allopathic medicines provide benefits in a short time while Ayurvedic medicines take time to show effect. Hence, these doctors manipulate or bypass the system to prevent themselves from getting any punishment.
Parul: Sir, do you remember any such incident in which a quack caused a huge loss/damage to life?
Dr. Bansal: In the year 2013, the High Court had a case of a quack named Riyazuddin who treated a pregnant woman and she died. He went to the High Court for a stay order, the High Court called the Delhi Police and included the Medical Council of India (MCI) and anti-quackery Cell to form a committee.
This time-bound committee collaborated with the MCI, Delhi Police, and the Drug Control Department to evaluate and stop this hoax, even calling in the Ayurvedic Council. We as a committee were to raid the quacks' clinic and the Delhi Police were to arrest them. All medical council was supposed to act on complaints lodged within 72 hours.
The Medical Council was also ordered to run a campaign every month to make the public aware of who are real doctors and who are not. The SHO (Station House Officer) was also ordered to analyze every medical practice and determine who were the fake doctors and arrest them under criminal offense (IPC 419,420).
Parul: What difficulties did you face in raiding?
Dr. Bansal: The jail term of 3 years, if found guilty under the Medical Council Act, but the offenders were granted bail by the SHOs. We raided the clinics in 2013 and 2014, I was in lead and all the legal procedures were done but the judicial system is so slow that I am getting the summon of those legal cases now. The lack of prompt action makes the offenders fearless.
Parul: Sir, what are were responsibilities as a Head of Anti-quackery cell (2009-2015)?
Dr. Bansal: Apart from raiding the clinics of fake doctors, I used to look after the medical practitioners. All those who were practicing allopathy should practice ethically and those who were not practicing medicine ethically would be punished. Legal action was taken against them involving the police and high court. There was a committee of 5 people in the Delhi Medical Council, which used to investigate the complaints coming every month.
We used to raid the clinics and check the degrees whether they are genuine or not, if the degrees were not authentic, we gave orders to close the clinics and stop the malpractices. The summons is still coming but now I am retired from Delhi Medical council so I can't go.
All those who are practicing allopathy should practice ethically and those who are not practicing medicine ethically should be punished.
Dr. Anil Bansal, Ex-chairman of the Anti Quackery cell of Medical Council, Delhi, India
Parul: How much progress has the Anti-quackery cell made in stopping unethical practices?
Dr. Bansal: When I was in service, I observed through my wife, who had a diagnostic center in old Delhi, that around that area the quacks were willing to pay commissions to genuine medical practitioners to keep malpractice alive. I felt so sad that my city is being overpowered by fake doctors. So, I began working with Medical Council to ensure the ethical practice of medicine. We made serious efforts to convince the people about the severity of the issue and now the public is quite aware that fake doctors should be punished, and they should stay away from them.
Parul: Sir, what is the current status of government dispensaries running in Delhi and are there fake doctors in them too?
Dr. Bansal: No, dispensaries are run by the government and the minimum requirement for recruitment is a bona fide degree from a recognized college. Ayurvedic, as well as homeopathic hospitals, employ the respective doctors. There are two homeopathy colleges and two ayurvedic colleges in Delhi.
Parul: Mohalla Clinics are very active in Delhi. Please tell us more about them.
Dr. Bansal: India now has the world's largest population, and we have inadequate health facilities. According to WHO, 10 percent of the GDP should be dedicated to healthcare. But in India, it is only one percent.
After new government came to power, they opened Mohalla clinics across the city. They made the lab tests free. These were opened because we do not have enough health facilities in Delhi and the treatment process in government hospitals is tiring, with long lines and overcrowding. Older people, pregnant women, and the physically challenged needed easy access to medical care.
There is a lot of rivalry between governments in Delhi, so Mohalla clinics, dispensaries, and government hospitals are not running as efficiently as they should.
Parul: Sir, what do you think about the progress of healthcare in Delhi as the capital?
Dr. Bansal: There has been a lot of progress in the healthcare sector in Delhi, new hospitals have been built, and clinics have been updated by the government, but the ever-increasing population in Delhi is making it difficult. Many people from nearby cities come to Delhi for treatment. There are many beds in hospitals but there is not enough staff.
The lack of staff (doctors, nurses and the paramedics) is where Delhi hospitals are falling behind.
Dr. Anil Bansal, Ex-chairman of the Anti Quackery cell of Medical Council, Delhi, India
Parul: What is your message for the young budding doctors?
Dr. Bansal: One thing I always say is that being a doctor is not a peaceful job anymore. Young people should take this as a career only if they have a lot of patience because there are so many medicolegal cases and incidents of violence against doctors.
MedBoundTimes is extremely grateful to Dr. Anil Bansal for sparing his time and talking to us.