90 percent of ‘doctors’ in urban slums are quacks: AIIMS

May 13th, 2008 - 12:55 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) At least 90 percent of the “doctors” in slums of Delhi and Bhubaneswar don’t have formal degrees, according to a survey by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Monday. Of 27 private practitioners in New Delhi covered under the study, only four had a formal degree to practice, while 26 dispensed allopathic medicines.

At least 92 percent of the households in Delhi surveyed cited a doctor in the ‘jhuggi’ as their first preference for treatment and only two visited a government hospital located around four km away.

“These practitioners have active associations and networks with diagnostic facilities. The majority are ‘trained’ outside Delhi, and the certificates indicating ‘Registered Medical Practitioner’ are displayed,” the survey revealed.

Chandrakant Pandav, head, centre for community medicine at AIIMS said: “There is a need to recognise the reality that non qualified practitioners are providing first contact healthcare to the poor urban slum population.”

“These practitioners have also expressed their desire to play a role in national health programmes. The real challenge is how best to engage them so that they can deliver quality services to the needy population,” Pandav added.

In Bhubaneswar, the survey did not find any practitioner with a formal medical qualification. A couple of traditional healers and one Ayurvedic practitioner provided services inside slums.

“The main providers of primary health care to the urban poor were found to be drug vendors and chemists, who often engage in diagnosis and replacement of prescription drugs,” the survey carried between April 2004 and December 2007 added.

The study found that the pharma industry plays a huge role in influencing the prescription and dispensing patterns of chemists and medical doctors through networking systems, intensive monitoring of prescription practices and individual outlets, combined with packages of attractive gifts to the most profitable doctors and chemists.

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