‘Super specialty’ treatment for everything, degrees of no known provenance, titles grandiose and patients gullible
Srinagar: Hundreds of Unani and Ayurvedic “clinics” have come up in recent years all across Kashmir, almost all of them operated by quacks. The health authorities, though, are lenient despite strict guidelines to keep such quacks in check. Their leniency is putting the lives of thousands of ailing persons at risk.
While the malpractice is present in every district, it is rampant in Srinagar, with quacks claiming prowess in treating all chronic diseases. They openly take patients for a ride, prescribing medicines and herbs for every ailment from joint pain to kidney failure.
Some claim to have abilities in naturopathy and alternative medicine while others indulge in ‘cross-practice’, writing prescriptions using code names for drugs, like Tab U-T, Inj Q-6, or giving separate slips that clearly prescribe allopathic medicines.
Kashmir Reader is in possession of prescriptions from the many illegally-run Unani clinics, which disclose their criminal acts.
A prescription by a clinic near Maharaja Bazar carries the claim of having remedies for every chronic illness. However, the ‘Hakeem’ does not possess a degree. There is also no registration number mentioned on the prescription.
To play it safe, though, the clinic operator has printed an intelligently drafted memo, with some unknown or fake abbreviations like ‘DSISM’ and ‘DUM’ appearing below the practitioner’s name. In the title section, the clinic claims that ‘Hakeem Muhammad Aslam Khan’ is a ‘Super Specialist in all chronic diseases (Ladies and Gents)’.
The prescriptions written by the self-proclaimed Unani professional follow neither the terminology nor any scheme of the Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM).
There are many ‘illegal’ clinics running in and around Maharaja Bazar and Hari Singh High Street localities.
One such clinic belongs to ‘Hakeem Muhammad Umar’. It is situated on the second floor of the Shahi Jeelan Shopping Complex on Hari Singh High Street. Hakeem Umar claims to have specialisation in sexual disorders and chronic diseases. The clinic charges huge amounts from gullible patients. Visits to this clinic revealed an unhygienic and untidy set-up that is more likely to attract diseases than to drive them away.
Another quack, ‘Hakeem Hafiz Qari Anwarulhaq Irfani Anjami’, runs a clinic in Nowgam. He prescribes unrelated herbs and Unani medicines which, according to a senior physician, amount to incorrect treatment. His prescription claims that he has obtained a list of unknown degrees – except for MBBS and BUMS.
Looking at his prescriptions, one is left amazed at the pathetic use of Urdu.
A patient from Baramulla told Kashmir Reader that he had visited the ‘Hakeem’ for many years. When his disease couldn’t be cured, he went to see doctors at the Baramulla District Hospital, where he was diagnosed with kidney stones and an enlarged prostate.
“I was shocked to know that his treatment was completely opposite to what I was suffering from,” he said. “I had a kidney ailment, but he was giving me herbs for joint pain.”
Another ‘Hakeem’, Javaid Shabnum, who operates from Rambagh, claims to have specialisation in every disease and has acquired certification as an ISM Registered Medical Practitioner. However, Unani doctors said such recognition is no longer valid after the introduction of the AYUSH and ISM system of medicines.
“He is practising illegally in the disguise of Unani Dawa Khana,” said a local.
Some of the illegal Unani clinics also advise diagnostic examinations to the patients. Some quacks have gone an extra step, by claiming expertise in all fields of medicine, including dental and cosmetic care.
Quacks with unknown degrees, like ‘MD, BAMC’, are operating in many districts. They claim to be members of ‘Indo Allopathy and Medicine Herbalism’.
They also claim to be all-rounders, having ‘expertise’ in Unani, Panchkarma, Homeopathy, Acupuncture and Electro Homeopathy, Allopathy, Ayurveda, Biochemic and Unani Medicines, as also Ophthalmology and Dental and Cosmetic Care.
According to sources, some physiotherapists are prescribing medicines to patients in Bandipora, especially in Sumbal and Sonawari areas.
In open violation of medical guidelines, these quacks use the title ‘Dr’ and ‘Hakeem’ with their names.
Sources said they have flourished over the years without sufficient regulation by the ISM department, thus affecting licenced and genuine practitioners.
“It also brings them and their profession into ill repute. There are hundreds of such clinics active in the Valley, operating mostly around government healthcare institutions. They take advantage of the inadequate health facilities at government hospitals,” local sources said.
Such clinics are running near tourist hub Dalgate and densely populated areas like Batamaloo, Rambagh, Panthachowk, Karan Nagar and Nowgam in Srinagar.
“Some of them have even taken refuge near religious places and bus stands,” said an official.
Director General, ISM department, Dr Kabir Dar acknowledged the mushrooming growth of illegal Unani and Ayurvedic clinics. “The department had no regulation before. However, after the formation of the AYUSH department, we have issued notices to all such illegal clinics and other establishments in the state to stop functioning without registration and license from the competent authority,” he said.
Dr Dar said the department had designated Additional District Medical Officers to see if anybody was found running an Ayush nursing home, private hospital, or clinical establishment, without registration and license.