CHENNAI: At least half a dozen doctors have been lending their name boards and prescription pads to quacks for a monthly fee of Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000, officials of the directorate of medical and rural health services have found.
On Monday, officials from the directorate lodged a police complaint against a Theni-based registered medical practitioner Dr Veeranan Kannan (registration number 58873) for lending his name board and prescription to a quack named Vinodh Joy. A complaint from joint director Dr S Amudhini sent to Theni superintendent of police says that Joy, who impersonated Dr Kannan, runs a clinic and a pharmacy in Davaram in Theni district. He incited people to protest and prevent his arrest after a raid.
“We caught him red-handed prescribing medicines on Dr Kannan’s prescription pad. But several people from the neighbourhood surrounded us and prevented us from arresting him and seizing drugs from him. During inquiry, Joy said he paid the doctor Rs 25,000 every month. Dr Kannan, on the other hand, told us he visits the clinic once every week,” said joint director Dr Gurunathan, officer on special duty, who was part of the Theni raid.
A Supreme Court ruling in 1996 defines anyone practising modern medicine without training in the discipline, even if they are trained in alternative systems of medicine such as Siddha and Ayurveda, as a quack. The Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 stipulates only those registered with the Medical Council of India can practice medicine. Last week, officials found two Chennai-based Indian medicine practitioners writing down allopathic medicines on prescription of a gynaecologist. “The allopathic doctors are well known in the area. We are unable to reveal their names as the case is under investigation. We have information about at least three more doctors who have been helping quacks. We will be sending their names to the medical council for disciplinary action including suspension,” said a senior official.
The Tamil Nadu chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) estimates there are around 50,000 quacks in the state, most of them in rural areas. In the past year, the directorate arrested more than 100 quacks across the state. There was a proposal to book them for attempt to murder. But most of them are now free, some have resumed practice, say officials. Many quacks were found to have studied nursing in unrecognised colleges or had worked as office assistants at clinics or hospitals.