Technically illegal but practically beyond law
By Sumiya Shah
Srinagar: Violating the Medical Council of India norms, many doctors possessing degrees that fall under the India System of Medicines (ISM) are prescribing allopathic medicines to their patients, from clinics and centres that remain unregulated as officials say that private ISM clinics running in the state are unregistered.
“After separation of ISM from health in 1978, government has not fixed a fee structure for registration of private ISM centers till now. Due to which all unregistered ISM centers are illegally practicing in the valley. We have asked the government many times to fix fee structure for ISM centers but they have not taken any step yet,” said Dr Syed Aashiq Hussain, Incharge Deputy Director ISM J&K.
While absence of a registration procedure has not been a hindrance to the proliferation of clinics claiming to offer alternative therapies, they remain outside the ambit of accountability.
One such clinic, Kashmir Naturopathy and Yoga Science Center at Rambagh Srinagar, offers therapies like hydrotherapy, yoga therapy, mud therapy and others along with allopathic medicine.
However, apparently to evade any legal hassles, doctors write allopathic prescriptions on a plain paper slip, while writing the rest of the prescription on a printed booklet that bears the centre’s name.
“Our aim is to treat patient with a natural way and we are treating patients here through therapies. We are prescribing English (allopathic) medicine to the patients in first five visits as in Kashmir people are medical minded. If we tell the patient abruptly to skip the medicine, they think that we are some new policy here. They don’t understand our formula of treatment,” the doctor running the centre told Kashmir Reader.
However Dr Hussain, the Deputy Director ISM, insists that doctors can prescribe medicine only from the system they are authorized to.
“A doctor holding degree in one medical system can’t prescribe the other system of medicine as it is an offence. A doctor dealing with ISM can’t prescribe English medicine to the patient,” Dr Hussain said.
However, in the absence of a registration policy officials have no oversight on the centres and the people working there. For now, there is apparently no authority to oversee whether the persons offering these alternative therapies at these centres are even qualified or authorized to offer those.
“Due to non registration we don’t have a record of these working centers in the valley. Registration of centers helps us in location of different centers operating at different places. If these centers are registered we can easily inspect the doctors as well as centers,” Dr Hussain said.
He, however, added that in case of complaint from public against any center, “we take immediate action on them”.
As per Indian Medical Council Act 1956 persons holding qualification of BAMS, BIMS, BUMS Ayurvedic \Unani sidha or Homeopathy are not entitled to practice modern scientific system of medicine (allopathy).